Working for the protection and welfare of animals used in science
How is the 3Rs Principle (Reduce, Refine, Replace) being applied nowadays? Do you know what a 3Rs Center is? We would need far more than one blog post to fully answer such questions. But we can still take it little by little. Today, we bring you the concept of 3Rs Center and their progressive rise in Europe and around the globe. Let’s dive into it!
First thing first: what are the 3Rs Centers?
Familiar with the 3Rs Principles for Animal Welfare? It stands for Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement in animal usage for scientific purposes. Hence, these principles first coined by William Russel and Rex Burch in 1959 are the motto of the 3Rs Centers.
The curiosity corner
Reduce, Refine, Replace: Did you know that the nematode C. elegans is part of the 3Rs toolkit? Discover how much do we share with this tiny transparent worm:
Missed the previous blog post about the 3Rs Principle? We’ve got you covered!
Craving a real definition? Here we go:
A 3Rs Center is a non-profit association advocating for the replacement, reduction and refinement of animal experimentation in science throughout research, education and communication efforts.
The rise of the 3Rs Centers in Europe – Directive 2010/63/EU
In the last decades, there has been a significant rise in public awareness and discourse surrounding animal experimentation and alternative replacement methods. Together with the implementation of Directive 2010/63/EU, which aims to safeguard the welfare of animals used in scientific research, they have significantly accelerated the creation and development of 3Rs initiatives in the form of centers and platforms.
Summing up, the 3Rs Centers are the “on the ground” response to the Directive 2010/63/EU, acting as agents of information and research in their corresponding countries.
A little bit of context…
Directive 2010/63/EU is a European Union (EU) law that provides a regulatory framework for the use of animals in scientific research. The directive was adopted on September 22, 2010, and it came into effect on January 1, 2013. Its primary aim is to ensure the ethical and humane treatment of animals used in research, while promoting the development of alternative methods to animal experimentation. Following the 3Rs Principles, the directive seeks to replace the use of animals with non-animal methods of research, reduce the number of animals used, and refine experimental procedures to minimize the suffering of animals involved in scientific research.
The purpose of the 3Rs Centers
The 3Rs scientific community has the objective of developing predictive alternative models – such as in vitro, in silico, and omics technologies – while integrating the data obtained into regulatory decision-making processes. Common examples of such regulatory efforts are concerning the toxicity of chemicals, drugs, or food ingredients. Additionally, the effort has been also extended into the fundamental research field, aiming to implement more human-relevant models.
However, in the case of the 3Rs Center, their aims go beyond research and shifts in regulation, since they also incorporate into their purpose statements the dissemination of information to institutions, scientists and non-scientist community to raise awareness and end biases.
In the European Commission’s words:
Whilst the expertise within the centers may vary, shared priorities have been identified and explored as a means of achieving impact in the 3Rs. These priorities include:
- Efforts to reduce animal use in biomedical research
- Communication and dissemination
- Promoting the use of alternative methods/models as biotechnological resources
- Education and training
- Validation towards regulatory acceptance
- Research initiatives supported by 3Rs Centres
Ref: European Commission (n.d)
How many 3Rs Centers and related associations exist?
In Europe we count with more than 30, more than 50 in total around the world. See it with you own eyes: