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EUPRIM-NET II — Result In Brief

Project ID: 262443
Country: Germany

Advancing 3R standards for primates

Non-human primates (NHPs) are endowed with a high level of sensory and cognitive abilities. Consequently, there is an international consensus that the highest ethical standards be applied for biomedical research, where experiments on primates are permitted only when there are no other feasible alternatives.
Advancing 3R standards for primates
The EU-funded EUPRIM-NET II (European primate network: Advancing 3Rs and international standards in biological and biomedical research) is a network of the European Primate Centers aimed at advancing 3Rs and international standards in biological and biomedical research. It has advanced the 3R principles of refinement, reduction and replacement as they apply to NHP research.

The new EU Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes has acted as a framework for EUPRIM-NET activities. For example, under Article 28 the Directive requires that "staff be adequately educated, trained and competent".

Courses for all levels of staff from veterinarians to animal carers have been held on non-invasive imaging, animal training, general primate biology, behaviour, diseases and biobanking. A lecture series is now available in seven European languages. The first NHP-specific laboratory animal science course was developed according to the new (2014) Federation for European Laboratory Animal Science Associations guidelines.

Tools developed for primate health include rapid detection of the main intestinal microbes and determination of immune responses. Again, training is of ultimate importance and standardised lectures on psychological wellbeing of animals through 'Animal Behaviour Management' and 'Positive Reinforcement Training' are now offered in six European languages.

Health monitoring was another focus and telemetry, using wireless recordings for measurements of physiological data, reduces incidence of handling and restraining. Combined with behavioural test systems, this will enable integrated and automated data collection.

Researchers have also developed in vitro technologies for replacement of the 3Rs in NHP studies. Dissociated cell culture methods for nervous system cells (microglia and astrocytes) and new stem cell-based protocols for nerve cell culture enable production of higher numbers of cells for research. Also developed are new assays for research into prion diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy as well as for AIDS vaccine development.

Biobanking is another approach to reduce the number of animals in experiments and EUPRIM-Net BioBank has provided access to primate materials from different NHP species.

For the foreseeable future, it is not realistic to abstain altogether from primate experiments in biomedical research. Work by EUPRIM-NET will help to ensure that animals are exposed to as little distress as possible and experimentation is conducted with the greatest ethical care.

Related information


3Rs, primates, biomedical research, ethical standards, in vitro technologies
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