De Boo J & Knight A. Increasing the implementation of alternatives to laboratory animal use. AATEX 2008; 13(3): 109-117.
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The scientific and logistical limitations incurred by the use of animal models of humans within bio-medical research and toxicity testing are substantial, and increasingly recognized; as is social concern about, and consequent regulatory restriction of, laboratory animal use. In defiance of these factors, such use remains enormous. Based on best estimates, 11,154,961 living non-human vertebrates were subjected to fundamental or medically-applied biomedical research, toxicity testing, or educational use, within Japan, in 2004; which was second only to the US. Additionally, the use of genetically-modified animals, and the implementation of large-scale chemical testing programs, are increasing laboratory animal use internationally. These trends demonstrate the need for considerably greater awareness of, and compliance with, the principles of the 3Rs―namely, the replacement, reduction and refinement of laboratory animal use―within governmental, academic and commercial sectors. These principles are widely recognized as essential to good laboratory animal practice. They may increase research quality and the robustness of outcomes, result in reduced timeframes and resource consumption, and jointly benefit consumers, industry and laboratory animals. An overview of 3Rs principles, and of strategies likely to increase their implementation, is therefore provided. Combinations of such strategies may have synergistic effects, improving both scientific outcomes and animal welfare.