FRAME (Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments) is pleased to see publication of the paper Risk of Bias in Reports of In Vivo Research: A Focus for Improvement.

It highlights an important issue that needs much more attention to ensure the number of animals in experiments are reduced and that those experiments that unavoidably (at present) use animals provide rigorous high quality results. It also identifies problems with regard to publishing information on experiments and the way research is assessed.

Our experience is that scientists are not necessarily receiving adequate training in experimental design to enable them to identify these problems both when designing experiments and when reviewing them. When scientists carry out experiments it is vitally important they are well designed, otherwise they may waste resources or give the wrong answers. This is especially serious if animals are used.

FRAME runs training schools designed to eliminate the problems outlined in the report. Our trainees learn how to use strict experimental design rules to prevent the inaccuracies identified by the researchers

The schools provide: basic training in experimental design techniques; instruction in statistical methods to ensure data is analysed correctly; advice on legal and ethical considerations when using experimental animals; opportunity to evaluate procedures before putting them into practice; chance to meet with other researchers to discuss ideas and exchange expertise; and practical skills that can be used daily in laboratories.

FRAME also publishes a peer-reviewed journal ATLA (Alternatives to Laboratory Animals) with papers which demonstrate how alternative experiments are conducted properly to avoid the subjective component.
ATLA has clear rules concerning appropriate statistics in order for papers to be accepted.

FRAME is a proactive “Three Rs” organisation, calling for the Replacement of animal procedures by scientifically valid alternative methods whenever possible; but it also accepts Reduction and Refinement of well justified animal procedures, for example in the development of vaccines against debilitating animal infectious diseases.

The paper featured in Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, October 14.