ANIMAL RESEARCH CONCORDAT

Animal research at the University of East Anglia

The University of East Anglia carries out animal research to further our understanding of diseases that have the most detrimental impact on human health and quality of life. Our research interests include: Alzheimer’s disease; obesity; inflammatory bowel disease; immunity and immune response; coeliac disease; sarcopenia; muscular dystrophy; arthritis; and many forms of cancer. In order to further understand these life-affecting ailments it is sometimes necessary, when no other alternative is available, to use animals in research. All of our research is underpinned by the guiding principles of the three R’s in animal research.  We fully support the development, validation and adoption of appropriate alternatives to the use of animals, in order to minimise the use of animals in research. Animals that we use at the University of East Anglia that are covered by the Home Office regulations are mice, xenopus toads and zebra fish.

Concordat on Openness in Animal Research

The University is committed to meeting the highest standards of animal welfare and care, and to greater openness about our approach to animal research. We are a signatory to the Concordat on Openness in Animal Research and adhere to the full UK and EU legal frameworks. As a signatory, we strive to uphold four main commitments of the Concordat:

  • We will be clear about when, how and why we use animals in research
  • We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals
  • We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals
  • We will report on progress annually and share our experiences

Facts and Figures

 

Our commitment to openness in research


The vast majority of the research done at UEA uses techniques such as cell and tissue culture, molecular biology, computer modelling and the study of samples from humans.


In some cases, where no alternatives are available, we use live animals in our research, to deepen and enhance our understanding of disease in live organisms. This process is strictly regulated across the UK by the Home Office, in order to ensure that the work done is scientifically justified, and that no animal undergoes unnecessary suffering. We use animals of the lowest neurophysiological sensitivity possible to obtain robust scientific data.


For each procedure they undertake on animals, researchers predict the expected severity level in their licence application. During the project, the actual severity level is recorded to ensure the procedures are working as expected. The severity levels are defined in relation to the five ‘freedoms’ (from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury and disease; from fear and distress; and freedom to express normal behaviours). There are five categories:

 

  • Sub-threshold: no suffering caused to animals. This could refer to, for example, a genetically modified animal born in a breeding programme
  • Mild: causing minimal and brief suffering – for instance, removal of blood for testing
  • Moderate: causing some suffering, but short-term only. An example would be a surgical procedure such as vasectomy
  • Severe: this category is the highest in the UK and is only allowed when the science has been well justified to ensure that any suffering is of short duration. One example may be a model that develops a neurological disorder, for example multiple sclerosis
  • Non-recovery: this classification is reserved for those animals that undergo a procedure under terminal anaesthesia.

The protected species we use in research are mice and two species of Xenopus frogs and zebrafish. Most of our research procedures on animals are classed as moderate or below. We monitor the animals closely for indicators of distress throughout all research procedures, and use painkillers and anaesthesia wherever possible to minimise suffering.


The Home Office collects data on the number of procedures carried out on protected species, rather than the number of animals used. The tables below, based on our Home Office returns, show the number of procedures carried out on animals for research at the UEA. This comprises research done for the School of Medicine, the School of Biological Sciences, and selected partner institutes at the Norwich Research Park.

01 January 2019 to 31 December 2019

Question

Species Used

Mice totals

Zebrafish totals

Xenopus Laevis totals

Xenopus Tropacalis totals

1.

Number of procedures

12133

574

88

86

2.

Procedure classification

 

 

 

 

 

Sub-threshold

6830

0

0

0

 

Mild

2017

334

88

86

 

Moderate

3280

240

0

0

 

Severe

6

0

0

0

 

Non-recovery

0

0

0

0

3.

Number of animals under ASPA procedures

12133

574

88

86

 

01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018

Question

Species Used

Mice totals

Zebrafish totals

Xenopus Laevis totals

Xenopus Tropacalis totals

1.

Number of procedures

12190

0

117

111

2.

Procedure classification

 

 

 

 

 

Sub-threshold

7897

0

0

0

 

Mild

2593

0

                    117

111

 

Moderate

1693

0

0

0

 

Severe

7

0

0

0

 

Non-recovery

0

0

0

0

3.

Number of animals under ASPA procedures

12190

0

117

111

 

01 January 2017 to 31 December 2017

Question

Species Used

Mice

Xenopus laevis

Xenopus tropicalis

1.

Number of procedures

10908

262

41

2.

Procedure classification

 

 

 

 

Sub-threshold

6958

0

0

 

Mild

1940

262

41

 

Moderate

1998

0

0

 

Severe

4

0

0

 

Non-recovery

8

0

0

3.

Number of animals under ASPA procedures

10908

133

41

 

01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016

Question

Species Used

Mice

Xenopus laevis

Xenopus tropicalis

1.

Number of procedures

6736

264

136

2.

Procedure classification

 

 

 

 

Sub-threshold

1989

0

0

 

Mild

3690

264

136

 

Moderate

1048

0

0

 

Severe

3

0

0

 

Non-recovery

6

0

0

3.

Number of animals under ASPA procedures

6736

264

136

Welfare of animals

 

The University maintains the strictest of ethical standards around the welfare of animals used in research. We employ a full-time animal care and welfare officer and a training and competency officer, as is legally required. Our staff are fully trained and are required to hold an accredited qualification by the Institute of Animal Technology, and our premises are regularly visited by a Named Veterinary Surgeon (NVS). Whenever possible, animals are housed in social groups with strict hygiene and environmental controls.

Our premises are visited regularly by Home Office inspectors to ensure compliance with the conditions of the Establishment license.

All of our research is underpinned by the guiding principles of the Three R’s in animal research.  We fully support the development, validation and adoption of appropriate alternatives to the use of animals, in order to minimise the use of animals in research.

The Three R's

 

As part of the commitment to the ethical standards of animals in research, the alternatives to the use of animals have to be explored first before any project license is issued.  If no other alternative is available, the project then has to demonstrate its commitment to the Three R’s:  

  • Replacement – an approach to research that does not involve the use of live animals. For example, this can be achieved through in vitro (tissue or cells) systems, in chemico (synthetic biochemical) approaches, or in silico (computer-based) methods.
  • Reduction – an approach which results in fewer animals used to achieve the same objective, either by reducing the number of animals used, maximising the research per animal, or sharing research samples within the scientific community.
  • Refinement – the data quality of results will increase in variability if the animals experience distress during the research. It is therefore in the project’s interest to conduct research under refined techniques which maximises the well-being of the animals involved.

Regulations

 

The legislation, regulation and oversight of animals used in research


The Home Office regulates and administers a licensing system under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986 incorporating the EU Directive 2010/63/EU. The University, as a licence holder, and its researchers are subject to inspection by the Home Office who examine all aspects of animal research, care and welfare.


The Home Office requires three levels of licensing that must all be in place before any regulated work is performed:

  • An Establishment License (PEL). Where the premises that undertake research involving animals must be licensed to do so.
  • A Project License (PPL). Where individual research projects are granted a license in order to undertake the proposed study.
  • A Personal License (PIL). Where individual members of staff are required to hold a license to undertake research on animals. In each case the personal license holder will be trained to the accredited standard.

All research projects involving animals require approval by the University’s Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB), including projects not subject to Home Office licensing. Each project has to demonstrate a number of key requirements prior to local ethical approval, and submission to the Home Office for their consideration and the granting of a licence:

  • That individuals involved in the research project are sufficiently experienced and trained in the use of animals in research.
  • That there is no alternative to the use of animals in research.
  • That the benefits of the research outweigh the potential adverse effects on the protected animals used.

AWERB also reviews animal projects that do not involve regulated procedures. This includes fieldwork research and observational studies, to ensure the natural habitats and environments of the subjects remain undisturbed by the research project. 

Further Information