Improving the ethical use of animals in science

We rely on animal studies in order to create new and improved medicines. Some types of animal studies are required by regulators before they approve a new medicine to be tested in humans during clinical trials. We are also still working to understand fundamental biological processes, where often there is no alternative to the use of live animals. Until we have a good understanding of these processes, we can’t look at ways of replicating those using non-animal models.

But that doesn’t mean that we are relaxed about how many or what kind of animals we use. Our scientists are constantly looking to find better, more accurate models that can reduce our reliance on animal studies, with the hope of one day replacing them altogether. For the time being the use of animals remains a necessity, so we are equally committed to improving the care and welfare of the animals we do have to use.

We have a proud history of reducing, refining and replacing animals in scientific studies and have made further progress in 2016. Our scientists collaborate and communicate to share innovative practices with our peers to continue to advance the 3Rs. Recent examples include:

  • Ongoing strategic collaborations working to develop new technologies (e.g. “organ on a chip”) that may one day replace many types of animal studies.
  • Working with academic collaborators, our scientists developed a new model of human heart cells to help provide a better indication of the potential effects of new drugs. We hope this will be more widely used by others and work towards reducing the number of animal studies in this important field.
  • Publishing and sharing refinements we developed in animal welfare to benefit animals more broadly, for instance, with regard to social housing and refined methods of blood sampling.