We were pleased to welcome 186 participants (134 regular, 52 students) to the first Swiss 3Rs Day on 2 September 2019 at the Hotel Kreuz in Bern. The conference took place at the occasion of the 60 years of the 3Rs principles published by Russel and Burch in 1959. The programme offered invited lectures and presentations by 3Rs specialists, including the winners of the 3RCC 2019 3Rs Award (s. above) and experts discussing replacing animal models by developing organoids, cell cultures, organs-on-chips, non-animal-derived antibodies, in vitro and in silico strategies as well as alternatives in education and training. During the sessions on reduction experts presented strategies to reduce the number of animals and tackle the reproducibility crisis with imaging techniques, biostatistics approaches and a platform to share organs and tissues. Refinement specialists presented their work on how a culture of care can improve animal welfare, how severity is classified in different countries and how to improve pain relief and euthanasia. The 36 submitted abstracts were presented in seven orals and on 29 posters. The Federation of Swiss Cantonal Veterinary Officers (VSKT) accredited the 3RCC’s as one day of continuing education, and participants should have received their certificates by email. More information about the abstracts and the programme can be found in the abstract book and on the event website: https://www.swiss3rsday.com/
3Rs news from Switzerland and abroad
Researchers from the National Center of Biotechnology in Madrid, Spain, and the School of Biotechnology at Dublin City University published a book on experimental design and statistics for animal research, which is available online. They describe why it is important to carefully design animal experiments. They show how researchers can avoid bias and reduce variance in their experiments. The book offers chapters on the calculation of sample sizes, the design experiments and pitfalls that should be avoided when planning research. The link to the book is: http://i2pc.es/coss/Articulos/Sorzano2018d.pdf
STEMCELL Technologies and Nature Research make webcasts on use of pluripotent stem cells available online. In a roundtable discussion on Challenges in Ensuring hPSC Quality global experts discussed some of the most pertinent issues impacting the use of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), ranging from fundamental biology research to therapeutic applications. The webcast includes a series of talks followed by panel discussions on hPSC quality, including: defining quality standards for hPSCs, assessing and maintaining different states of pluripotency, and ensuring genomic integrity for use in clinical studies.
More information: http://bit.ly/hPSCsWebcast
The NC3Rs, Newcastle University and Flaire Learning released new e-learning modules that are available for free. The interactive resources on anaesthesia and analgesia support the training of laboratory animal research workers and the professional development of others who work with laboratory animals.
More information: https://flairelearning.com/all-courses/
In 2010, the NC3Rs developed the Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments (ARRIVE) guidelines, a 20-item checklist designed to improve the reporting of research using animals. Despite growing levels of support for the ARRIVE guidelines throughout the scientific community over recent years, there is limited evidence of improvement in the quality of reporting in animal research publications. An international working group is road testing updating the guidelines and developing a strategy to accelerate their uptake to make sure that reporting of animal experiments in scientific publications will further improve.
More information: https://nc3rs.org.uk/revision-arrive-guidelines
University of Lausanne researchers contributed to a review summarising the use of in vitro and in silico models to study mosquito-borne flaviviruses, which cause neurological disease such as West Nile, Dengue, and Zika. So far, researchers have been using non-human primates extensively to better understand the neuropathogenesis and identify potential therapeutics and vaccines. Despite advances toward the development of humanized mouse models, these models still do not fully represent human pathophysiology. Recent developments in stem cell technology and cell culture techniques have allowed the development of more physiologically relevant human cell-based models. In silico modeling has also allowed researchers to identify and predict transmission patterns and discover potential vaccine and therapeutic candidates. More information: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcimb.2019.00223/full
The Swiss 3RCC contributes to a consortium that aims to develop interactive e-learning modules that help train the application of the 3Rs across Europe. This EU pilot project aims to harmonise the approach to training in the 3Rs to advancing animal welfare and scientific quality. The contract supports the development of two dedicated e-learning training modules for people interested in alternative (non-animal) approaches. SYRCLE the Evidence-based Toxicology Collaboration (EBTC) will develop Module I titled Searching for, and identification of, existing alternative non-animal methods and approaches, while the 3RCC and the Institute for In Vitro Sciences will develop Module II Developing reliable and relevant in vitro methods and approaches for scientific purposes and regulatory use. Once finalized, the modules will be available to professional course providers and will also be freely accessible on a dedicated platform to facilitate wide dissemination and harmonization of concepts.
More information: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-07/ifiv-ip071619.php
The 3RCC recommends that a
first course dedicated to the 3Rs principle should be part of the core courses
at the Bachelor level of Swiss universities. This recommendation is the outcome
of a survey conducted on currently existing educational programmes in
Switzerland, and based on the outcome of the survey conducted in fall 2018 on
gaps and opportunities for implementing the 3Rs in Switzerland. The courses
could for example be part of the core courses at the Bachelor level in life
sciences, bioengineering, medical, veterinary, environment, agricultural
sciences and pharmacy. During the courses, students will acquire knowledge on the
3Rs and ethical principles, Swiss animal welfare legislation, ethical
responsibility and scientific rigour as well as have examples of refinement,
reduction and replacement methodologies. More info: https://swiss3rcc.org/category/education/
The press release published on 23 December 2018 presented some top-line results of a survey conducted among researchers working with and/or having an interest in alternatives to animal testing in Switzerland. It showed that they are committed to applying the so-called 3Rs principle because they are concerned about animal welfare and because they want to improve the scientific quality of their research, whereas legal requirements are not their main motivation. More info under 3RCC activities & 3Rs resources https://swiss3rcc.org/2019/01/01/442/