Researchers consider the use of non-animal methods when designing experiments and use them whenever appropriate. Animal research is expensive and frequently time consuming. Scientists continue to seek new ways to reduce the number of animals used, refine the use of laboratory animals to minimize pain and distress and, in some cases, even replace the use of animals. The following are examples illustrating Reduction, Refinement and Replacement.

  1. Computer modeling improves statistical analyses or sometimes allows scientists to get the information they need using fewer animals.
  2. Advanced analytical techniques are used to measure physical or chemical properties of substances. Also non-invasive techniques, like MRI’s, are used to study what goes on inside the body.
  3. Improved ways of growing cells and tissues in cultures outside of the body (in vitro techniques) and, ways of studying what goes on inside cells, help reduce the number of animals.
  4. Improved anesthetics and analgesics reduce the potential for discomfort.
  5. An example of replacement includes a chemical pregnancy test that replaced the use of rabbits for this purpose.

Despite today’s technological advances, animal research remains essential in advancing medicine and protecting human health. To answer some important questions, nothing can presently substitute for the complex biological interactions of the whole living animal. Animal research often provides the critical link in our understanding that makes modern day medical “miracles” as well as consumer and workplace safety possible.

For additional perspectives, visit the following sites. All are loaded with information.

Americans for Medical Progress Educational Foundation (AMPEF)http://www.ampef.org/
This site is loaded with information. Good source for current news items.

Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC)http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/
Specific issues of the AWIC Newsletter that you might find helpful:

Vol. 2 No. 1 January-March 1991 — http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/newsletters/v2n1.htm
Topics addressed include: alternatives and the Animal Welfare Act; AWIC tips for searching for alternatives; an overview of alternatives.

Vol. 2 No. 2 April-June 1991 — http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/newsletters/v2n2.htm
Topics addressed include: alternatives concept; computer software in education; animal use reduction in veterinary schools.

All issues of the AWIC Newsletter / Bulletin — http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/newsletters/awicnews.htm
The content of each issue is briefly summarized. Skim through the listing to find updates, specific articles on alternatives, or other topics that interest you.

Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR)http://www.FBResearch.org
This site provides information on the role of animal tests in medical advances, plus background information on animal rights organizations.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT)http://caat.jhsph.edu/
This organization specifically addresses the development of alternatives for research and testing — replacement, reduction and refinement.

Research Defense Society (RDS)http://www.rds-online.org.uk/
This British site provides lots of information on specific advances in medicine and health that were dependent on animal testing.