Special Issue "Animal Experimentation: State of the Art and Future Scenarios"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Ethics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Federica Pirrone
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Veterinary Medicine, Universita degli Studi di Milano, 20122 Milan, Italy
Interests: ethology; animal physiology; neuroendocrinology; human-animal bond
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Augusto Vitale
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Center for Behavioural Science and Mental Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy
Interests: animal welfare; ethics of research; primatology; ethology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Animal experimentation continues to be a source of debate within the scientific community and society. Since the publication of the Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals for scientific purposes, the quality of life of laboratory animals has improved significantly. However, many aspects still remain critical and require discussion. For example, although alternatives have been successfully applied in some cases, the number of animals used in EU laboratories is not declining as we hoped. In certain cases, the number has even increased (i.e., the use of nonhuman primates for regulatory purposes).

The aim of this Special Issue is to try to provide a realistic view of the state of the art of the use of animals in basic and applied research, and to propose possible future scenarios.

The practice of animal experimentation is multifactorial. Thus, articles focusing on the scientific, ethical, normative, and/or societal issues related to animal experimentation will be welcome, which may help to highlight the current strengths and weaknesses of the use of animal models.

Dr. Pirrone Federica
Dr. Augusto Vitale
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Animal models
  • Legislation
  • Animal experiments
  • Ethics of research
  • Nonhuman primates
  • Biomedicine
  • Regulatory studies
  • Toxicology
  • Animal welfare
  • The 3 Rs principle

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Article
Recommendations for Standardizing Thorax PET–CT in Non-Human Primates by Recent Experience from Macaque Studies
Animals 2021, 11(1), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010204 - 15 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 732
Abstract
Despite the possibilities of routine clinical measures and assays on readily accessible bio-samples, it is not always essential in animals to investigate the dynamics of disease longitudinally. In this regard, minimally invasive imaging methods provide powerful tools in preclinical research. They can contribute [...] Read more.
Despite the possibilities of routine clinical measures and assays on readily accessible bio-samples, it is not always essential in animals to investigate the dynamics of disease longitudinally. In this regard, minimally invasive imaging methods provide powerful tools in preclinical research. They can contribute to the ethical principle of gathering as much relevant information per animal as possible. Besides, with an obvious parallel to clinical diagnostic practice, such imaging platforms are potent and valuable instruments leading to a more refined use of animals from a welfare perspective. Non-human primates comprise highly relevant species for preclinical research to enhance our understanding of disease mechanisms and/or the development of improved prophylactic or therapeutic regimen for various human diseases. In this paper, we describe parameters that critically affect the quality of integrated positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET–CT) in non-human primates. Lessons learned are exemplified by results from imaging experimental infectious respiratory disease in macaques; specifically tuberculosis, influenza, and SARS-CoV-2 infection. We focus on the thorax and use of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose as a PET tracer. Recommendations are provided to guide various stages of PET–CT-supported research in non-human primates, from animal selection, scan preparation, and operation, to processing and analysis of imaging data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Experimentation: State of the Art and Future Scenarios)
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Communication
Animal Research beyond the Laboratory: Report from a Workshop on Places Other than Licensed Establishments (POLEs) in the UK
Animals 2020, 10(10), 1868; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101868 - 13 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1291
Abstract
Research involving animals that occurs outside the laboratory raises an array of unique challenges. With regard to UK legislation, however, it receives only limited attention in terms of official guidelines, support, and statistics, which are unsurprisingly orientated towards the laboratory environment in which [...] Read more.
Research involving animals that occurs outside the laboratory raises an array of unique challenges. With regard to UK legislation, however, it receives only limited attention in terms of official guidelines, support, and statistics, which are unsurprisingly orientated towards the laboratory environment in which the majority of animal research takes place. In September 2019, four social scientists from the Animal Research Nexus program gathered together a group of 13 experts to discuss nonlaboratory research under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (A(SP)A) of 1986 (mirroring European Union (EU) Directive 2010/63/EU), which is the primary mechanism for regulating animal research in the UK. Such nonlaboratory research under the A(SP)A often occurs at Places Other than Licensed Establishments (POLEs). The primary objective of the workshop was to assemble a diverse group with experience across a variety of POLEs (e.g., wildlife field sites, farms, fisheries, veterinary clinics, zoos) to explore the practical, ethical, and regulatory challenges of conducting research at POLEs. While consensus was not sought, nor reached on every point of discussion, we collectively identified five key areas that we propose require further discussion and attention. These relate to: (1) support and training; (2) ethical review; (3) cultures of care, particularly in nonregulated research outside of the laboratory; (4) the setting of boundaries; and (5) statistics and transparency. The workshop generated robust discussion and thereby highlighted the value of focusing on the unique challenges posed by POLEs, and the need for further opportunities for exchanging experiences and sharing best practice relating to research projects outside of the laboratory in the UK and elsewhere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Experimentation: State of the Art and Future Scenarios)
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Review

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Review
Legal Frameworks and Controls for the Protection of Research Animals: A Focus on the Animal Welfare Body with a French Case Study
Animals 2021, 11(3), 695; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030695 - 05 Mar 2021
Viewed by 624
Abstract
In recent years, efforts have been devoted to improving the welfare of laboratory animals. Scientific progress and growing concerns over animal harm have pushed institutions to strengthen their laws to make science more humane and responsible. European Directive 2010/63/EU makes it mandatory for [...] Read more.
In recent years, efforts have been devoted to improving the welfare of laboratory animals. Scientific progress and growing concerns over animal harm have pushed institutions to strengthen their laws to make science more humane and responsible. European Directive 2010/63/EU makes it mandatory for breeders, suppliers and users of laboratory animals to have an animal welfare body (AWB) to prioritize animal welfare and harmonize experimental standards while reassuring the public that research is being carried out appropriately. Based on application of the three Rs (refinement, reduction and replacement), these bodies provide staff with oversight and advisory functions to support compliance with the legal requirements on both animal housing and project realization. This review aims to present the legal measures protecting research animals, with a focus on European AWBs. The review explains how the mission of AWBs includes development of environmental enrichment programs and how animal training generates benefits not only for animal welfare but also for the research work environment and research quality. A French case study is conducted to provide the scientific community with an example of an AWB’s functioning and activities, share its achievements and propose some perspectives for the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Experimentation: State of the Art and Future Scenarios)
Review
Reducing versus Embracing Variation as Strategies for Reproducibility: The Microbiome of Laboratory Mice
Animals 2020, 10(12), 2415; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122415 - 17 Dec 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 955
Abstract
Irreproducibility is a well-recognized problem in biomedical animal experimentation. Phenotypic variation in animal models is one of the many challenging causes of irreproducibility. How to deal with phenotypic variation in experimental designs is a topic of debate. Both reducing and embracing variation are [...] Read more.
Irreproducibility is a well-recognized problem in biomedical animal experimentation. Phenotypic variation in animal models is one of the many challenging causes of irreproducibility. How to deal with phenotypic variation in experimental designs is a topic of debate. Both reducing and embracing variation are highlighted as strategies for reproducibility. In this theoretical review, we use variation in mouse microbiome composition as an example to analyze this ongoing discussion, drawing on both animal research and philosophy of science. We provide a conceptual explanation of reproducibility and analyze how the microbiome affects mouse phenotypes to demonstrate that the role of the microbiome in irreproducibility can be understood in two ways: (i) the microbiome can act as a confounding factor, and (ii) the result may not be generalizable to mice harboring a different microbiome composition. We elucidate that reducing variation minimizes confounding, whereas embracing variation ensures generalizability. These contrasting strategies make dealing with variation in experimental designs extremely complex. Here, we conclude that the most effective strategy depends on the specific research aim and question. The field of biomedical animal experimentation is too broad to identify a single optimal strategy. Thus, dealing with variation should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and awareness amongst researchers is essential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Experimentation: State of the Art and Future Scenarios)
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Other

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Commentary
Open Transparent Communication about Animals in Laboratories: Dialog for Multiple Voices and Multiple Audiences
Animals 2021, 11(2), 368; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020368 - 02 Feb 2021
Viewed by 739
Abstract
In this article, I offer insights and proposals to the current movement for increased openness and transparency about animal use in laboratories. Increased transparency cannot be total transparency—as no story or picture can ever be complete. When research advocates share their stories, they [...] Read more.
In this article, I offer insights and proposals to the current movement for increased openness and transparency about animal use in laboratories. Increased transparency cannot be total transparency—as no story or picture can ever be complete. When research advocates share their stories, they must decide which words and pictures to edit out. I ask here: Who of the listening “public” gets a chance to revisit this editing, and find the information that is important to them? To the extent that (what I call) the “new openness” attempts to speak to a “lay public” and exclude animal activists, I suggest that refinement-focused animal protectionists deserve enhanced avenues of openness and inclusion—which some research advocates might fear giving to more extreme activists and which a less invested “lay public” may not want or need. I conclude with some specific examples and suggestions to not just invite inquiry from animal advocates, but to bring them in as witnesses and participants, to learn from and incorporate their concerns, priorities, expertise, and suggestions. This can bring a diversity of ideas and values that could improve the quality of science, the credibility of animal researchers, and the welfare of the animals in laboratories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Experimentation: State of the Art and Future Scenarios)
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