FRAME has conducted many studies examining the use of animals in laboratory research and searching for alternatives to animal experiments. We study published work to investigate why animals are currently used in laboratory research and to determine how the Three Rs can be implemented. Our findings are promoted in many ways, including through representation on national and international expert committees, many of which were formed by FRAME to address specific scientific questions. Some of our current research programmes are summarised below.
Nanotechnology has permeated several key markets with the fastest and highest uptake in development of medicinal products, medical devices and other healthcare products. Regulatory testing guidelines were developed before nanotechnologies were even conceptualised and have had no reforms. FRAME’s work investigates whether the animal models currently used can simulate human nanotoxicity. If not, there is concern that regulators will call for a greater number of animal studies.
Alternative In Vivo Models
Several organisms are useful in vivo models and can replace rodents in certain experiments, particularly those involving genetic modifications. Successful research has been carried out using fungi, plants, invertebrates, and the embryonic/larval stages of some vertebrates. FRAME has investigated areas which benefit from using
these model organisms. We aim to highlight the benefits and drawbacks of specific alternative in vivo models in order to maximise their potential. This poster explains more.
At FRAME we analyse UK annual statistics and EU statistics on laboratory animal use to identify areas where Three Rs initiatives can be better applied. FRAME is concerned that animal experiments are persistently rising each year, largely due to the continuing use of genetically modified mice and an increased interest in investigations and tests in fish.
FRAME calls for an end to the use of primates in research and testing. To facilitate this scientists at FRAME investigate the reliability of primate models and justifications for their use, and examine the feasibility of replacing them with alternative methods now and in the future. Projects include; a report on replacing primate malaria models, a submission to a EC opinion on the need for primates in research and testing and an ongoing PhD examining primate use in various fields of research. This poster explains more.
The FRAME Reduction Steering Committee, with the University of Manchester, has organised successful Training Schools in The Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis of Biomedical Experiments. The aim was to give participants an appreciation of what they need to consider when designing an experiment and also provide them with the basic skills needed to plan and analyse their work in such a way as to minimise the number of animals needed and maximise he quality and relevance of the scientific output. The University has since adopted the course as part of its post graduate training syllabus. This poster details the benefits.
FRAME is examining the relative merits of rational design and alternative strategies for immunotoxicity testing with reference to outcomes of preclinical and clinical studies of biopharmaceuticals. More than 150 protein biopharmaceuticals are currently approved for clinical use. These products can exhibit forms of immunotoxicity that are revealed during clinical studies. Few existing animal studies are able to predict outcomes in a way that is useful for estimating risk for entire patient populations for a specific, and often unique, product.
The use of genetically modified animals is one of the fastest growing areas of animal experimentation. FRAME is concerned about this because many suffer deformities and diseases as a result of the production techniques as well as having the pain and distress of the disease they have been designed to exhibit. FRAME has been actively involved in addressing transgenic animal welfare and the validity of their use as models of human diseases.
Models of Psychiatric Diseases
Depression and schizophrenia can be severe and are relatively common conditions. Since their causes are mostly unknown and the treatment options are limited, research is carried out to gain a better understanding of the diseases and develop new drugs. The efficacy of novel compounds is usually determined on inbred and genetically modified rodents. FRAME is investigating the relevance of these animal models for the study of such complex human psychiatric disorders.