Last week, the NC3Rs hosted a joint meeting with the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour and the Society for Experimental Biology on 'Implementing the 3Rs in behavioural and physiological research'. Over 100 delegates attended the two-day event which covered topics including improved rodent handling, non-invasive sampling techniques, and replacing the use of protected vertebrates with invertebrates and early-life forms.
As part of the event delegates were invited to present posters describing their research and the 3Rs impacts they expect it to have. With a prize of £1k, to be used to further 3Rs activities (e.g. presenting the research at an international scientific conference), there were 23 entrants keen to showcase their work.
Three judges: Drs Mark Briffa (University of Plymouth), Katherine Sloman (University of the West of Scotland) and Mark Prescott (NC3Rs) were tasked with choosing the winner, and in the end came to a unanimous decision.
Miss Kamar Ameen-Ali from the University of Durham received the prize for her exceptionally clear poster, which described her work (funded by an NC3Rs studentship) on recognition memory in rats. The work has involved the development of a novel continual trial apparatus which allows multiple trials within a test session. Her new method has equivalent statistical power to traditional tests, but uses half as many animals. The technique is also classed as a refinement as it avoids repeated handling, which can be stressful to the rats.
The judges were not only impressed with the ingenuity of the new technique, and the fact that it had implications for two of the three Rs, but also the potential impact that it could have on the number of rats used in this type of research worldwide. By conducting a literature search for the number of papers published in this field over the last few years, and multiplying this by the number of rats typically used per test, Kamar estimates that it could result in 4,500 fewer rats being used in this type of study every year.
Further details of Kamar's work, supervised by Dr Alexander Easton, can be found on our research portfolio.