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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Reduction in Laboratory Animal Use by Factorial Design


Robert Shaw

Factorial experimental designs (FEDs) can be used to study the effects of controllable variables, such as an experimental treatment, sex, strain, age, diet and prior treatment of animals, on some defined response. Such designs have been widely used in optimising manufacturing processes, but have rarely been used in optimising animal experiments in drug discovery. FEDs generally provide more information than the alternative “one-variable-at-a-time” approach, because each animal contributes information on the effect of every factor, and because such designs can highlight any interactions among the variables. Although FEDs can have any number of factors and levels of each factor, where many factors are to be explored, it is common to do an initial experiment using two levels of each factor, and in some cases fractional factorial designs can be used to reduce the total number of treatment combinations to manageable levels. These designs have been used successfully at AstraZeneca in the optimisation of in vivo drug screening experiments, where their use has effectively reduced the numbers of animals used in some routine screens.