Non-human primates are used extensively in the development of vaccines and therapeutics for human disease. High standards in the design, conduct, and reporting of NHP vaccine studies are crucial for maximizing their scientific value and translation, and for making efficient use of precious resources. A key aspect is consideration of the 3Rs principles. Funders of NHP research are placing increasing emphasis on the 3Rs, helping to ensure such studies are legitimate, ethical, and high-quality.
We have collaborated with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) on a range of initiatives to support vaccine developers to implement the 3Rs, including hosting an international workshop in 2019. The NC3Rs also reviews the 3Rs aspects of CEPI proposals for research, infrastructure and training.
The workshop identified opportunities to refine NHP vaccine studies to minimize harm and improve welfare, which can yield better quality, more reproducible data. Careful animal selection, social housing, extensive environmental enrichment, training for cooperation with husbandry and procedures, provision of supportive care, and implementation of early humane endpoints are features of contemporary good practice that should and can be adopted more widely. The requirement for high-level biocontainment for some pathogens imposes challenges to implementing refinement but these are not insurmountable.
The key findings and recommendations from the workshop are published in Vaccines.