The NC3Rs has today announced 21 new grants totalling £5.1 million for research to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in science - referred to as 'the 3Rs'. This is the largest single allocation of funding ever made for 3Rs research in the UK.
The latest funding is for projects that will find new ways to advance the 3Rs in a wide range of research programmes in which animals are used, from the causes of cancer and liver fibrosis to understanding the transmission of influenza virus and the effect of drugs on bone formation during osteoporosis. Many of the projects involve multi-disciplinary teams, with biologists working with computational and mathematical modellers through to animal behaviour experts collaborating with neuroscientists.
Much of the new research focuses on developing and utilising cutting edge techniques, such as a novel nebuliser and cell culture system that will replace ferrets used for influenza research, and adapting MR Elastography, a non-invasive imaging technology which measures the elasticity of tissues, to take heart function measurements in rodents. Innovative approaches will also be used to assess the welfare of non-human primates used in neuroscience research, including measuring the changes in the length of the ends of chromosomes in white blood cells as a novel marker of chronic stress.
A record amount has been awarded this year, after additional contributions from the core funders of the NC3Rs the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).
NC3Rs Chief Executive, Dr Vicky Robinson said: "The awards will ensure the UK continues to lead the world in developing new ways to minimise the use of animals in research and testing and improve animal welfare. We are extremely grateful to the BBSRC and MRC for making available another £1.9 million so that the NC3Rs could fund an additional six key projects. I am impressed by the diverse projects that we have selected for funding, which demonstrate the commitment to the 3Rs by some of the UK's leading scientific teams."
Dr Tony Peatfield, MRC Director of Corporate Affairs said: "I am very pleased that the MRC has been able to provide additional support to the NC3Rs to boost the number of high quality applications it has been able to award this year. The NC3Rs continues to demonstrate that 3Rs research not only benefits animals but can also result in new discoveries that may ultimately benefit patients."
This year the NC3Rs had a joint call with the BBSRC for research proposals to develop new ways of measuring and assessing animal welfare, with the NC3Rs considering those proposals involving laboratory animals, and the BBSRC those involving livestock and companion animals. The BBSRC provided an additional £900k to the NC3Rs to allow eight awards to be made by the NC3Rs totalling more than £2.3 million. In addition, the BBSRC will be awarding approximately £3.8 million to eight projects looking at livestock and companion animals.
BBSRC Chief Executive, Professor Douglas Kell said: "We have a responsibility to ensure the highest welfare standards for the animals we farm, keep as pets and use for scientific and medical research. In order to do this we need a thorough understanding of what animal welfare is and how it can be measured in different animals. These new projects will help ensure best practice in animal husbandry has a sound evidence base."
Dr Robinson said: "Assessing animal welfare is a crucial step for reducing pain, suffering and distress. I am particularly pleased that we have made three awards to better identify and alleviate pain and stress in fish, as the latest Home Office statistics show that the fish are now the second most common type of animal used in research and testing, and their use is increasing."
The latest awards bring the Centre's investment since 2004 to over £30 million on 131 different grants.
The award recipents and titles are as follows. Visit our Research Portfolio to read the abstracts and for more information (browse by award year - 2012).
Information on project grants awarded:
Professor Wendy Barclay, Imperial College London
Developing an in vitro approach to study transmission of respiratory viruses
Dr Melissa Bateson, Newcastle University
Assessing cumulative severity in macaques used in neuroscience research*
Dr Ilaria Bellantuono, University of Sheffield
Development of computational models of bone formation and resorption to predict changes in bone in preclinical intervention studies
Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith, University of Stirling
Validating reward-related behaviour for welfare assessment, and improving welfare through increased predictability of events*
Dr Raymond Bujdoso, University of Cambridge
Use of PrP transgenic Drosophila to measure mammalian prion infectivity
Dr Mark Coles, University of York
Human and mouse artificial lymph nodes: novel technology to reduce and replace the use of animal models in clinical and developmental immunology
Professor Andrew Cossins, University of Liverpool
The detection, assessment and alleviation of pain in laboratory zebrafish*
Professor Chris Denning, University of Nottingham
Human pluripotent stem cell cardiomyocytes and hepatocytes with engineered genotypes for drug safety evaluation
Dr Charlotte Hosie, University of Chester
Establishment of consensual husbandry protocols for laboratory Xenopus laevis using novel physiological and behavioural techniques*
Dr Ioanna Katsiadaki, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)
Assessing welfare in fish: the answer is in the water!*
Dr Jan-Ulrich Kreft, University of Birmingham
eGUT: a tool for predictive computer simulation of the gut microbiota and host interactions
Professor Michael Mendl, University of Bristol
Development and validation of an automated test of animal affect and welfare for laboratory rodents*
Dr Emily Sena, University of Edinburgh
Reduction and refinement in animal models of neuropathic pain: using systematic review and meta-analysis
Dr Sarah-Jane Vick, University of Stirling
Quantifying the behavioural and facial correlates of pain in laboratory macaques*
Information on pilot study grants awarded:
Ms Gidona Goodman, University of Edinburgh
Investigation of behavioural and physiological responses to fin-clipping in zebrafish*
Dr Francois Lassailly, Cancer Research UK
Non-invasive imaging to reduce and refine the use of animals and monitor their welfare during the course of experimentations in oncology
Professor Mark Lewis, Loughborough University
CRANNME: The complete removal of animal use for neuromuscular effectors testing
Dr Donna Margaret MacCallum, University of Aberdeen
Live real-time imaging of life-threatening invasive fungal infections
Dr Fiona Oakley, Newcastle University
Optimising liver equivalents to model liver fibrosis
Dr Christopher Petkov, Newcastle University
Individually customisable, non-invasive head immobilisation for primates with the option for voluntary engagement
Dr Jurgen Schneider, University of Oxford
Feasibility of replacing invasive heart pressure measurements with non-invasive MR Elastography to reduce rodent numbers in pre-clinical research
*Awards funded under the animal welfare measures and assessment call