Is it possible to use computer models or cell cultures instead of animals?
- Animal research occurs alongside other types of studies, including human clinical and epidemiological research, as well as alternatives to whole live animal research such as cell cultures and computer simulations. In fact, consideration of viable alternatives to research with live animals is a basic ethical principle that undergirds the conduct of all research with nonhuman animals. Furthermore, this principle is implemented through a stringent regulatory oversight system that mandates review and approval of such research, at multiple levels.
- Nonhuman primates are studied when there are no feasible current alternatives to address the research question.
- The CNPRC follows the principles of “reduce, refine, replace”, the 3Rs. Whenever possible, researchers must reduce the number of animals needed, refine how experiments are conducted, replace animals with others (e.g. mice instead of monkeys), or replace animal tests with cell cultures or computer models. It is currently not possible to completely replace animal models with computer simulations or cell cultures.
- Technology can be used to reduce the number of animals required. For example, in collaboration with biomedical engineers at UC Davis, the Center acquired a Positron Emission Tomography (PET/CT) scanner, similar to those used in human medicine, designed specifically for noninvasive imaging of animals. By providing more detailed information from a single animal, the PET machine reduces the number of animals required for certain studies.
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