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 e.g. 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; we will also be using zebrafish from early 2018. 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 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

 

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