New technique shown to significantly improve welfare of laboratory animals

September 28, 2015, University of Bristol
New technique shown to significantly improve welfare of laboratory animals

The refinement of a common handling technique used on laboratory animals for pre-clinical research can dramatically reduce stress levels and significantly improve welfare, according to the findings of a new study published in Scientific Reports.

The majority of involving laboratory animals require the administration of substances and, to facilitate this in rodents, animals are normally physically restrained. As part of the study, researchers from Bristol's School of Physiology and Pharmacology found that the physical restraint of the animal is the main cause of stress.

In this paper, the team demonstrate a new handling technique used on rats which avoids the use of physical restraint. The study then compared the physiological, behavioural and emotional impacts of restrained versus non-restrained injection procedures in the rodents to assess their . They found that the new handling method resulted in the rodents being in a more positive affective state, lowering their by around 50 per cent.

The results have important implications for scientific research as well as animal welfare as we know that the release of can alter an animal's physiological, neurochemical and psychological state as well as its response to drug treatments.

Dr Emma Robinson, lead author of the study from Bristol's School of Physiology and Pharmacology, said: "While major steps have been made in the development of alternatives to using animal models in research and to reduce the number of procedures undertaken, further improvements in can be made through refining existing procedures.

"This study highlights important welfare implications associated with physical restraint and demonstrates a new method to reduce this which benefits the animal's welfare as well as experimental outcomes."

Explore further: Animal welfare could be improved by new understanding of their emotions

More information: "Reducing the stress of drug administration: implications for the 3Rs." Scientific Reports 5, DOI: 10.1038/srep14288

Related Stories

Improved farm animal welfare – added value or a necessity?

August 10, 2015

Several years ago I started to study an economic issue related to farm animal welfare. Quite soon I realized that this issue can trigger an intensive discussion and receive attention among citizens and in the media. Almost ...

Stress in pet cats—how it manifests and how to manage it

June 22, 2015

A variety of day-to-day events - from conflicts with other cats to changes in their daily routine - can cause cats to become stressed. This can trigger a number of behavioural changes and be detrimental to their welfare.

Recommended for you

How stem cells self-organize in the developing embryo

January 16, 2019

Embryonic development is a process of profound physical transformation, one that has challenged researchers for centuries. How do genes and molecules control forces and tissue stiffness to orchestrate the emergence of form ...

60 percent of coffee varieties face 'extinction risk'

January 16, 2019

Three in five species of wild coffee are at risk of extinction as a deadly mix of climate change, disease and deforestation puts the future of the world's favourite beverage in jeopardy, new research warned Wednesday.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.