UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences
Statement on the use of animals in research
UCL is at the forefront of biomedical research leading to benefits for patients and the public, including treatments for life-threatening and debilitating diseases. Biomedical research improves both our understanding and management of these diseases and is essential to maintain advances in health care. Similarly it also has important implications for veterinary medicine.
Drug treatments and therapies for serious and terminal illnesses such as cancer, Parkinson's, stroke, leukaemia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS have been developed with the aid of animal-based studies, www.understandinganimal research.org. Indeed, all prescription medicines available today have involved the use of animals at some stage in their development.
UCL conducts biomedical research using a wide variety of alternative methods to the use of animals, www.frame.org.uk, including medical imaging, computer modelling, human volunteer studies, tissue culture, genetic and statistical studies. However, despite advances in non-animal methods it is still essential to use animals where no viable alternatives exist, to enable further much-needed advances in medical knowledge and treatments.
Research using animals is rigorously defined and controlled by The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, Amendment Regulations 2012 (ASPA), and is carried out under licences granted by the Home Secretary, which are assessed by weighing the benefits of the proposed research project against the likely cost to the animals' wellbeing (see: www.gov.uk/research-and-testing-using-animals).
The Home Office, through the Animals in Science Regulation Unit (ASRU) Inspectorate, undertake a rolling programme of inspections to ensure that the terms of the licences are being adhered to and that animal husbandry and welfare is maintained at a high standard. In line with the requirements of ASPA, UCL operates an Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) which includes lay representation. The AWERB has established an ethical review process which scrutinises all new project licence applications prior to their submission to the Home Office, as well as offering advice on animal welfare and other allied matters.
In addition all UCL staff and students undertaking experiments which involve animals receive rigorous training. Compliance throughout UCL is established by the Establishment Licence Holder through a network of individuals with mandatory responsibilities under the legislation including project and personal licensees, Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers (NACWO's), Named Information Officers (NIOs), Named Training and Competence Officers (NTCO) and the Named Veterinary Surgeon (NVS).
Animal facilities at UCL are staffed by teams of dedicated trained animal technologists who are responsible for the care and welfare of laboratory animals and their environments. UCL also actively supports the '3Rs': to ‘Replace' animal use wherever possible, to ‘Reduce' the number of animals used and to ‘Refine' both procedures and husbandry in order to minimise suffering and enhance welfare. More information about the 3Rs can be found at: www.nc3rs.org.uk.
UCL has endorsed the ARRIVE Guidelines, an NC3Rs initiative to improve the reporting of research using animals. Information on the Guidelines is provided to students and researchers though training courses and other UCL information resources and are intended to further promote reproducible, transparent, accurate, comprehensive, concise, logically ordered, well-written manuscripts. Further information on the ARRIVE Guidelines may be found at: www.nc3rs.org.uk.