by Farah Moulvi, MSPH, PRIM&R Blog Squad member
PRIM&R is pleased to bring you more blog posts from the PRIM&R Blog Squad. The Blog Squad is composed of members who are devoted to blogging prior to, live from and after the PRIM&R's conferences.
A recent article in PRIM&R’s Research Ethics Digest, titled, “The Role of Organizational Culture in Compliance With the Principles of the 3Rs," made me stop to think about alternatives to the use of animals in research. As required by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy), as endorsed by the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals: Eighth Edition (Guide), and as executed by institutional animal care and use committees (IACUCs), research investigators must consider alternatives to procedures that may cause pain or distress to animals used in research. According to the US Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals in Testing, Research, and Training, there are three central concepts, named by Russell and Burch in 1959, that need to be explored when considering alternatives: replacement, reduction, and refinement.
Reduction encourages scientists to use fewer overall animals to acquire the same scientific information.
The AWA requires that investigators demonstrate they have considered alternatives by providing a written documentation of the methods and resources used to determine the availability of alternatives. The USDA’s Animal Care Policy Manual provides guidance on the required written documentation, which includes performing a literature search within appropriate databases. The policy specifies that when conducting a database search the narrative must, at a minimum, include:
- The names of the databases searched;
- The date the search was performed;
- The period covered by the search; and
- The keywords and/or the search strategy used.
By performing the appropriate literature search, the investigator fulfills not only the requirement to search for alternatives to the use of animals and alternatives to potentially painful procedures, but also determines that the described research animal use does not duplicate previous or existing studies.
What mechanism or processes has your organization developed to facilitate the IACUC’s review of this regulatory requirement? I would love to hear your thoughts. It’s your feedback that makes this a dialogue. If my blog makes you think, rethink, ask questions, or points you in a new direction—great! Please feel free to share.