This survey is centered on European research, and is an instrument to be made available freely to interested stakeholders to shape the public discourse on biomedical research.
It will be used to map the reality of the European biomedical research models – animal or non animal, tracing as accurately as possible the state, perspectives, needs, and expectations of those that made research their call.
An ever growing number of stakeholders, from within and outside research practice, participate in the shaping and definition of key research policies, each with specific agendas and values. A credible depiction of the reality, articulation, and complexity of European research will be a meaningful instrument to help the public dialogue remain focused on the effective needs of research itself, embedding outside considerations but not suffering undue influence.
The survey includes multiple questions on the use of animals in research.
To take part – Click on the word ‘here’; or follow the EU Survey link given below.
Animal-free method predicts nanoparticle toxicity for safer industrial materials
26 November 2020
At Helmholtz Zentrum München, the research group of Dr. Tobias Stöger, in collaboration with partners from the SmartNanoTox EU project, gathered insights on the toxicity of nanoparticles and managed to predict the spectrum of lung inflammation using only in vitro measurement and in silico modeling.
Our lungs are exposed to a multitude of hazardous airborne particles on a daily basis. Nanoparticles, due to their small size, may reach the sensitive alveolar region of the human lung and trigger inflammation even after a single inhalation leading to severe diseases such as heart disease, brain damage and lung cancer for prolonged exposure.
In manufacturing, toxic nanoparticles may be released into the environment during the production, processing, degradation or combustion of materials. Despite advances in models for nanotoxicology, currently neither in vitro nor in silico testing tools can reliably predict adverse outcomes or replace in vivo testing. In order to facilitate the introduction of safer materials into our lives, novel testing strategies are needed to predict the potential toxicity of industrial nanoparticles before and during the manufacturing process.
Currently, safety testing relies heavily on animal studies.
While animal experimentation is still indispensable for mechanistic and chronic toxicological studies, they are less suited for predictive tests within a safe-by-design production of new materials. This study introduces an alternative animal-free testing strategy, capable for high-throughput testing and connectable with in silico modelling.
Leading Animal Protection groups join forces for animal testing bans
23 November 2020
Following calls from EU authorities for cosmetics ingredients to be tested on animals, Europe’s leading animal protection groups have sent a joint statement to MEPs urging them to uphold the groundbreaking cosmetics testing and marketing bans.
Even though the testing of cosmetics ingredients on animals is banned under the EU Cosmetics Regulation, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Commission (EC) argued that even ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics may still be tested on animals under the REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) if there is a possibility of workforce exposure during the manufacturing process. For cosmetics ingredients also used in other types of products, tests on animals may, they say, be required regardless of any potential for workforce exposure.
It is imperative that the purpose of the Cosmetics Regulation – that cosmetics products are safely brought to market using only non-animal data – be met without compromising the bans. For ingredients marketed under the Cosmetics Regulation that have a history of safe use by consumers and of controlled handling on the factory floor, robust protection of both workers and consumers is already enabled through a variety of non-animal assessment methods and the careful application of exposure assessments. When regulators decide that a new ingredient cannot be brought safely to market without animal testing, its introduction should be delayed until additional non-animal test methods are available.
The recent administrative decisions are not the end of the road for the cosmetics testing and marketing bans. We maintain that new safety assessment data for cosmetics substances imported into, manufactured or sold within the EU may only rely on non-animal assessment methods. The wishes of citizens and legislators are clear: ECHA and the European Commission must be held accountable and compelled to uphold the terms of the EU cosmetics animal test and marketing bans as originally intended.
As animal protection organisations, we call for the European Parliament and the European Commission to ensure that the following mandates are urgently carried out:
• The EU bans on animal testing for cosmetics and the marketing of ingredients tested on animals must be fully upheld and implemented as intended by the legislators.
• EU test requirements – including requirements set out in REACH – must not undermine the bans but instead must apply a substance-tailored approach to ensure consumers, workers, and the environment are protected without further tests on animals.
• The European Commission must devise a robust testing strategy for cosmetics ingredients using only available non-animal assessment strategies so that the implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability reflects the overwhelming support for strengthening – rather than weakening – the protection of animals in Europe.
The joint statement and list of signatories can be seen here.
ADI urges WHO to cut animal tests to tackle COVID-19
16 November 2020
An open letter, spearheaded by ADI, is calling for the use of non-animal research methods in the search for a vaccine for COVID-19. Although animal testing is not required, and often unreliable, it is still taking place globally.
Animal Defenders International (ADI), a member of Eurogroup for Animals, has prompted an open letter directed to the World Health Organisation concerning animal tests. The letter calls for advanced non-animal research methods to be prioritised in order to accelerate the discovery and use of effective vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, and has been signed by nearly 100 experts, academics, and other concerned parties. It states that “significant funding and precious time is being spent on animal research…. despite the known species differences which make the results from such data unreliable when translated to humans.”
Usually, vaccine research and development takes up to 15-20 years, but thanks to international collaboration, a vaccine for the SARS-COV-2 virus might be available as soon as next year. Animal research is a major part of this process. The International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA) has now stated that efficacy tests using animals are not required before proceeding to human clinical trials. Despite this, these tests are still taking place, even alongside clinical trials in some cases.
Safety testing on animals, however, is still required. For these tests, animals are typically force-fed or injected with a substance while restrained, and suffer debilitating, even fatal, side effects. In all this, animal testing remains an unreliable way to predict the effects of drugs in humans due to species differences. More than 90% of drugs that prove promising in animal trials fail in humans, either due to lack of effectiveness or safety concerns. Even though this issue is widely recognized, laboratories around the world continue to use animals to test possible vaccines for COVID-19. Jan Creamer, ADI President, states: “There is an urgent need to tackle and treat COVID-19 and other human disease with better, faster science. To provide safer, more effective treatments to help people, we need to move away from unreliable animal research and use advanced scientific methods, more relevant to humans.”
Dr Aryan Tavakkoli MRCP FRACP, a respiratory physician, mentions that the respiratory systems of animals used for COVID-19 research are known to be different from ours physiologically, so it is only logical that human-based methods be prioritised and used for testing treatments and vaccines. He also claims that with incredibly sophisticated methods such as human lung models that are now available, it is vital that resources and time are directed toward these to find treatments and a vaccine for this life-threatening virus.
Besides the open letter, ADI has also launched a petition to cut animal testing in the search of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Legislation to Create NIH Center for Advancing Non-Animal Research Introduced in US Congress
9 November 2020
A New York-based nonprofit group, CAARE, that led the drive to create legislation to promote “cutting-edge methods” of research superior to animal-based testing, today lauded the announcement that the “Humane Research and Testing Act of 2020” has been introduced in US Congress.
Landmark bipartisan legislation to promote and fund scientifically advanced, human-relevant, non-animal methods through the establishment of a dedicated center under the National Institute of Health (NIH) was introduced by Congressional members Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL).
Barbara Stagno, president of Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research & Experimentation, commends the effort, noting: “CAARE is grateful to Representatives Hastings and Buchanan for introducing this legislation that has great promise to change the current paradigm of routine use of animals in laboratories when there are available alternatives, and gives real impetus to reducing animals by establishing a center exclusively for that purpose.”
The “Humane Research and Testing Act of 2020” would create a “dedicated center under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide resources, funding and training to advance humane, cost-effective, and scientifically suitable non-animal methods,” Stagno added.
Because the exact number of animals used in U.S. research is unknown, ranging between 17 million and 100 million annually, the “Humane Research and Testing Act of 2020” is also designed to obtain that data, and requires the NIH to outline a plan for reducing those numbers.
Many animal experimental establishments, such as pharmaceutical companies and universities, breed their animals themselves. Others order animal breeding from commercial “experimental” animals.
Just as one selects books or clothing from a catalog at a mail-order company, live animals are offered for sale at breeding companies.
On the Internet or in the catalog, experimenters can choose from a large selection of different species and breeds. Animals that have been operated on are even offered, e.g. Rats and mice with tied blood vessels or nerves, with the spleen or kidney removed, etc.
Or genetically modified animals in a wide variety of ways, e.g.
“Humanized mice” that have been “implanted” with a specific human gene.
There is no longer even talk of animals, but of “products” and “research models”.
The American Jackson Laboratoryoffers thousands of different strains of mice whose genome has been manipulated in such a way that the animals develop certain diseases such as cancer, diabetes, or obesity.
The world’s largest “experimental” animal breeder, the American company Charles River Laboratories, has a rodent and rabbit breeding facility in Sulzfeld in the Karlsruhe (Germany) district.
In Cologne, there is a branch of the American company Taconic, which breeds genetically modified mice.
Monkeys are partly bred for research in the German Primate Center (DPZ) in Göttingen (Germany).
Around 95% of the monkeys come from outside the EU. The largest exporter is China, followed by Mauritius.
There wild monkeys are caught and reproduced in breeding facilities under unspeakable conditions.
The boys are sent to Europe and America to die in the laboratory. AirFrance is the main carrier of monkeys.
Animal experiments are carried out in the following areas:
After the scandal ruling by the Hamburg Higher Administrative Court, according to which the Hamburg animal testing laboratory is allowed to reopen the Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology (LPT),Doctors Against Animal Experiments filed a criminal complaint against the LPT on suspicion of cruelty to animals.
The nationwide association wants to underline the urgency that the people responsible for the animal suffering documented on film must be brought to justice.
In October last year, covert recordings by SOKOAnimal welfare from the LPT laboratory in the Lower Saxony district of Mienenbüttelbrought scandalous conditions to the public: dogs lying in their own blood and monkeys writhing in primate chairs.
LPT manipulated studies.
For example, animals that have died in a series of experiments are said to have been swapped for living ones without having to properly note this or to take it into account in the further course of the study – with corresponding risks also for human health.
After the undercover investigation, the authorities withdrew the operator’s permission to keep animals because his reliability is not given –
This was done in January 2020 first at the Mienenbüttel location and in February at the headquarters in Hamburg-Neugraben. Only the 3rd laboratory in Schleswig-Holstein remained unmolested.
In August of this year, the Hamburg Higher Administrative Court overturned the decision of the authorities and allowed animals to be kept at the headquarters in Hamburg-Neugraben again.
The nationwide association Doctors Against Animal Experiments considers the decision to be incomprehensible. “Even if personnel changes have been made, this does not change the irresponsible behavior of the operator,” said Dr. med. vet. Corina Gericke, Vice Chairwoman of Doctors Against Animal Experiments.
In the opinion of the association, those responsible, especially the managing director Jost Leuschner, must at least be punished. “The filmed evidence shows very clearly that the crime of cruelty to animals is present. So the severity of the law has to take effect, otherwise, the animal welfare law degenerates into a laughing stock, ”explains Gericke.
A six-month PETA US undercover investigation into the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC) – which keeps nearly 2,000 monkeys in barren steel cages and bleak, windowless rooms – found that highly intelligent animals were being neglected, driven mad by extreme long-term confinement, and attacked by their traumatised cagemates.
Severe Confinement, Constant Stress, and Mutilation
Monkeys at WNPRC spend every day and every night locked inside barren metal cages. They never feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or the earth beneath their feet. Stripped of their autonomy, they’re unable to make decisions regarding the most basic aspects of their lives. Constant, unremitting captivity causes these smart, sensitive animals extreme psychological distress, leading some to injure each other and themselves.
A baby monkey, named Cocoa by the PETA US investigator, was attacked by a severely stressed adult macaque, resulting in deep, painful cuts to her face.
Months later, her wounds still had not fully healed, and she clung to her mother in fear.
Incompatible animals were forced to live together in just a few square feet of space, and a monkey named Ellie lost part of her ear in a fight with a cagemate.
Amputations of parts of fingers, toes, and tails were a common result of the traumatic injuries sustained by monkeys in WNPRC’s care. A worker said that some of these highly intelligent animals were caged alone “because they’re a**holes ” who “beat the crap out of” each other – completely ignoring that the fights were a result of the monkeys’ unnatural, barren living conditions.
One frustrated monkey, known only as r12050, mutilated his own leg down to the muscle. With nothing to occupy his mind, he picked and scratched compulsively at the open wound.
“We’re not supposed to say they look depressed .”
Highly intelligent, social macaques – who, in their natural habitats, explore and roam vast grasslands and lush forests – paced, circled, and shrieked in the never-ending lockdown. One monkey, named Sainte, rocked continuously from side to side, all alone and miserable in a small cage.
When they weren’t being simply warehoused, animals were used in painful procedures and experiments.
Workers euphemistically referred to certain monkeys as “semen donors,” but they had certainly not volunteered for the painful process. Typically, the monkeys are fitted with metal collars, and workers use poles that fasten onto the collars to pull them out of their cages by the neck. The monkeys are then strapped into a restraint chair, and experimenters electroshock their penises until they ejaculate.
Many different types of experiments were being carried out at this facility. One experimenter bred monkeys infected with Zika and simian immunodeficiency virus, which is similar to HIV. Infant macaques were deprived of food overnight for “cognitive testing” and cried endlessly when separated from their companions. A supervisor said that experimenters attempted to infect marmosets—small, delicate monkeys—with COVID-19 but that “nothing happened.”
Scotland University develops alternative to animal testing
8 October 2020
Researchers at the University of Dundee have proposed an alternative to animal testing by developing a “skin culture” which mimics living skin.
Founders Dr Robyn Hickerson and Dr Michael Conneely have secured funding for their ‘TenSkin™’ product, where human skin is stretched to an optimal tension to mimic the mechanobiology that exists in intact, living skin on the body.
This provides a state-of-the-art tool for skin biology research by allowing scientists to generate reliable and safe data without the need for animals.
Dr Conneely said: “The skin that covers our body is under tension, this has been known for a long time. “Other models don’t incorporate this tension, and this is why our product is more effective. When skin is removed from the body it contracts as the tension relaxes.
Animal testing is often a subject of ethical controversy, with many raising concerns about the reliability of the method. Ten Bio’s new approach aims to significantly reduce animal usage for skin related research.
Dr Hickerson added: “There is a disconnect between animals and humans when you’re trying to develop therapeutics.
“While animals can serve as good analogues to study general principles, they often fail when it comes to specific details due to animal/human species differences. These details matter when it comes to developing safe and effective drugs for humans.
“Upwards of 90% of drugs that are proven safe and effective in animals fail during clinical trials. Our model will help reduce this costly failure rate.”
A bone-on-a-chip device developed to tackle animal testing in medical research
A bone-on-a-chip device, which grows human bone tissue in the laboratory, has been developed by engineers in hopes that it could reduce the need for tests on animals in medical research.
The researchers, led by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering of Sheffield University and the Insigneo Center for Solico Medicine, demonstrated how the bone-on-a-chip could be used to test new possible therapies for weakened or diseased bones through growing bone tissue – and published the information in the Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.
Compared to existing experiments, which generally involve comprehensive in vivo evaluations involving animals, this new method has been developed in vitro, entirely in the laboratory, and eliminates the need to use animals in research.
The field of organ-on-a-chip’s goal is to create minuscule devices that contain tiny versions of organs, including liver, bone or lungs in the laboratory. The hope is that discovering ones that function in humans by testing experimental drugs on tiny copies of human organs rather than in animal models will have a higher success rate.