On February 1st 2022 the Swiss 3RCC hosted a webinar aiming to contribute to an open dialogue about animal research and non-animal methods ahead of the public vote on Feb. 13th, 2022. Six experts highlight their views on the challenges and opportunities in replacing animal experimentation.
Prof. Kristin Schirmer and Melanie Fischer from Eawag received the 3RCC's 2019 3Rs Award for their outstanding research work in the 3Rs area of replacement. They obtained ISO certification for a toxicity test using cultured fish gill cells instead of fish, a milestone in the promotion of alternatives to animal experiments. In this video they explain how their method works, the potential it has and their next steps. They also talk about the long journey they had to take to get their method validated and approved.
Prof. Jane Hurst from the University of Liverpool explains that picking up mice by the tail induces aversion and high anxiety levels, as assessed by a range of measures, which can be minimised by instead using a tunnel or a cupped hand. As well as having animal welfare benefits the research has shown that picking up mice by the tail can impact on scientific outcomes, with mice handled by tunnel and cupping methods showing improved performance in behavioural tests compared to traditional tail handling.
Prof. Patrycja Nowak-Sliwinska, group leader of Molecular Pharmacology at University of Geneva's medical centre CMU, talks about the in vitro 3D system she developed to study the effect of drug combinations on colorectal cancer cells. Nowak-Sliwinska won the 2019 Replacement Award from the Swiss Laboratory Animal Science Association SGV.
Prof. Hanno Würbel from the University of Bern explains how excessive standardization in animal research can be a source of poor reproducibility because it ignores biologically meaningful variation. He shows that multi-laboratory studies and other ways of creating more heterogeneous study samples can be effective means of improving the reproducibility of study results, which is crucial to prevent wasting animals and resources for inconclusive research.
By developing a technique to test anti-infective compounds on infected amoebas in order to retain only the most effective ones, the group of Thierry Soldati, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the Faculty of Science of the UNIGE, makes it possible to considerably reduce the number of tests that will then have to be carried out on the mouse.
As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, Dr David Pamies is working on a human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived 3D platform, and brain organoids, in vitro models representing the human brain to predict the toxicity of different chemicals. In addition to providing a cheaper and more efficient way of studying this than the industry standard of mouse models, this model is allowing Pamies to study the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals such as temozolomide in glioblastoma.