Applying the 3Rs in non-human primate research: barriers, solutions and opportunities

Two recently published papers co-authored by NC3Rs staff members have explored the application of the 3Rs to research and safety testing involving non-human primates (NHPs).

The use of NHPs is particularly contentious due to their high sentience. Current EU laws prohibit their use unless there are no possible alternatives and the potential benefits may be significant. Implementation of the principles of the 3Rs in NHP research has led to a reduction in their use and improvements in welfare, which in turn can benefit the science produced. To learn more about the NC3Rs' work in this area, visit our dedicated resource hub, or read on to learn more about the papers recently published.

Applying the 3Rs to non-human primate research: Barriers and solutions

Progress is being made in applying the 3Rs to research involving NHPs, but various cultural and practical barriers continue to prevent widespread uptake of available 3Rs techniques and further development of 3Rs methods. These barriers and potential solutions are identified in Applying the 3Rs to non-human primate research: Barriers and solutions, published in Drug Discovery Today: Disease Models and co-authored by Dr Mark Prescott from the NC3Rs, Dr Jan Langermans of the Biomedical Primate Research Centre in the Netherlands, and Dr Ian Ragan, a member of the NC3Rs Board.

In June 2017 the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) produced an updated Opinion on the need for NHPs in biomedical research, production and testing of products and devices. While this Opinion highlighted progress in the implementation of the 3Rs, it also identified a number of issues that continue to inhibit further progress, which are explored in further detail in the paper. These issues include resistance to change within the research community, the lack of dedicated 3Rs funding in Europe, and under-appreciation of the scientific and business benefits of applying the 3Rs.

The paper also identifies potential solutions, such as strengthening implementation of the regulatory framework for NHP use, raising awareness of existing 3Rs techniques and initiatives such as the ARRIVE Guidelines, and improving the provision and quality of staff training.

You can read the paper online via ScienceDirect.

Overview of 3Rs opportunities in drug discovery and development using non-human primates

NHPs continue to be used in some circumstances as part of the drug development process to ensure the safety of new pharmaceuticals in humans. They are used in conjunction with in vitro, ex vivo and in silico approaches, as well as assessments in other species.

Current international regulations and guidelines require implementation of the 3Rs, but more remains to be done in applying them to the use of NHPs for safety assessment. This topic is explored in Overview of 3Rs opportunities in drug discovery and development using non-human primates, a paper published in Drug Discovery Today: Disease Models and co-authored by Dr Helen Prior and Dr Fiona Sewell of the NC3Rs and Jane Stewart of ApconiX.

To learn more, read the paper online via ScienceDirect.

References

Prescott MJ, Langermans JA, Ragan I (2017) Applying the 3Rs to non-human primate research: barriers and solutions. Drug Discovery Today: Disease Models. (in press) doi: 10.1016/j.ddmod.2017.11.001

Prior H, Sewell F, Stewart J (2017) Overview of 3Rs opportunities in drug discovery and development using non-human primates. Drug Discovery Today: Disease Models. (in press) doi: 10.1016/j.ddmod.2017.11.005

Vermeire T, Epstein M, Badin RA, Flecknell PA, Hoet P, Hudson-Shore M, Jones D, Krätke R, Langermans J, Prescott MJ, Simonnard A, Testai E (2017) Final opinion on the need for non-human primates in biomedical research, production and testing of products and devices, update 2017. Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER), European Commission: Brussels.

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