Openness in animal research

Openness in animal research

We are committed to being open and transparent about the research we conduct involving animals and have signed the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK promoted by the Understanding Animal Research organisation.

Much of our research at Glasgow involves studying lab-grown cells, human-derived tissues or computer models, but often useful knowledge can only be gained by understanding how a disease or drug functions in a living organism.

Animals are only used in research at Glasgow when there is no other suitable alternative available, and we are committed to the principles of the three Rs – replacement, refinement and reduction.

The welfare of our research animals is very important and we provide high-quality in-house veterinary care and housing facilities. Where necessary our animals receive anaesthesia and pain relief to minimise their discomfort and distress and they are humanely euthanised at the end of their lives.

All of our scientists who are engaged in animal research are properly trained and licensed and we work under the strict legislation and guidance issued by the Home Office.

We believe animals have made and continue to make a huge contribution to our understanding of human and animal health. Without their contribution many of the medicines and therapies we have at our disposal, and much of our knowledge, just wouldn’t exist.

The animals we use

The University uses a variety of mammals, birds, fish and amphibians for research purposes and procedures.

All our animals are housed in proper facilities and are cared for by a team of veterinary surgeons, animal care staff and support staff who are all fully-qualified and trained. Our facilities are regularly inspected by the Home Office.

Approximate number of procedure involving animals under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, under Home Office licences held by University of Glasgow staff in 2016

Rodent

47,243

Fish                         

2,598

Bird

291

Sheep

79

Rabbit

155

Pig

2

Cattle

194

Amphibian

4

Total

50,566


Arrive guidelines

The University of Glasgow has signed up to the 'Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments (ARRIVE) Guidelines'. This is a 20-point checklist for researchers designed to improve the reporting of animal research.

Find out more about the guidelines on the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research website.


FAQ

Q. Why do we need animal research? Aren’t there other options like computer modelling and human-derived cells?

A. There are many different ways to study biology outside of a living organism – for example, cells in a Petri dish (in-vitro). However, to fully understand how a disease evolves or a drug works inside a living creature it is necessary to study these things in animals (in-vivo). We are committed to replacing, refining and reducing our use of animals by taking advantage of new research methods and technology and using stem cells derived from adult humans.

Animal research has greatly advanced medical knowledge and practice – both in humans and animals. Without these advances things like anaesthetic and antibiotics might not be in use today.

Q. Do you test cosmetics on any animal?

A. No. The University does not test cosmetics on animals.

Q. Does the University use primates for research?

A. No. The university does not use primates for research.

Q. How is the decision to use animals made/approved?

A. In bidding for funding and permission to undertake studies, researchers must demonstrate that they have considered all other non-animal research methods. All projects that require a Home Office licence have to be approved through the University’s Animal Welfare and Ethics Review Board.

The University's ethical review process involves lay representation and external and internal members. It provides ethical advice on standards of animal care, welfare, and accommodation, and ensures that those working with animals are aware of their responsibilities and receive appropriate training. Veterinary and animal care staff are actively involved in the ethical review of research, welfare, and care of animals and provide ongoing advice and support to researchers where necessary.

Q. What kinds of procedures are carried out on animals?

A. Most of the animals at Glasgow are rodents – mice and rats. Some of these rodents may be genetically modified, for example, to make them more or less prone to developing a certain condition, like cardiovascular disease or arthritis. Common procedures include taking blood samples from living animals, and taking tissue samples from euthanised animals. One example of a severe procedure conducted at the University involves inflicting spinal cord injuries on mice as part of research into spinal cord injury in humans. These mice receive anaesthesia and pain relief.

Q. Do animals suffer pain during research?

A. Procedures carried out by the University are assessed for the level of pain likely to be inflicted, with a low score commensurate with blood-taking using a needle. Animals are given anaesthetics and analgesics (pain-relief) where necessary.

Q. What happens to animals after they are no longer required for research?

A. Under welfare guidelines each animal can only undergo a certain number of procedures. Once an animal is no longer required it is humanely euthanised.

Q. Where you get animals from?

A. The majority of our animals are either sourced from breeding establishments licensed by the Home Office or bred at our own facilities. Some studies are undertaken on animals in the wild.


Further reading

More from the University

For more information about UK legislation on animal research

To find out more about how scientists are finding new ways to carry out research without using animals

For more information about why animal research is carried out, how it has contributed to medical treatments and the types of procedures undertaken