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Office of Research Integrity

Alternatives to Animal Use

New developments in research have resulted in alternatives that can potentially minimize the impact of the necessary procedures, reduce the number of animals needed for valid results, or even eliminate the need to use animal models altogether. Available alternatives must be investigated prior to undertaking any study involving animal use to ensure that available methodologies which might allow replacement, reduction or refinement of animal use are taken into consideration in the design of the protocol.

Legal Requirements:

Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals: References the US Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Training:

III. The animals selected for a procedure should be of an appropriate species and quality and the minimum number required to obtain valid results. Methods such as mathematical models, computer simulation, and in vitro biological systems should be considered.

IV. Proper use of animals, including the avoidance or minimization of discomfort, distress, and pain when consistent with sound scientific practices, is imperative. Unless the contrary is established, investigators should consider that procedures that cause pain or distress in human beings may cause pain or distress in other animals.

Federal Animal Welfare Act: Official policy on alternatives is stated in Policy 12, Written Narrative for Alternatives to Painful Procedures:

Alternatives or alternative methods are generally regarded as those that incorporate some aspect of replacement, reduction, or refinement of animal use in pursuit of the minimization of animal pain and distress consistent with the goals of the research. These include methods that use non-animal systems or less sentient animal species to partially or fully replace animals (for example, the use of an in vitro or insect model to replace a mammalian model), methods that reduce the number of animals to the minimum required to obtain scientifically valid data, and methods that refine animal use by lessening or eliminating pain or distress and, thereby, enhancing animal well-being. Potential alternatives that do not allow the attainment of the goals of the research are not, by definition, alternatives.

Alternatives Search Guidelines:

  • Must be thorough.
  • Must address the concepts of replacement of animal use,
  • reduction in numbers of animals used and
  • refinement of procedures and techniques to be used.

May be conducted with the assistance of MUSC Library Resources:

References for Alternatives Searches

Altweb: Alternatives to Animal Testing

Animal Welfare Information Center