Recognizing the important role that animals play in research, drug testing, biological products and education/training in the field of medical science, there have been increasing efforts to ensure that such animals are treated with the greatest possible care. To this end, ethical and scientific standards have been developed to improve the quality of animal research and personnel safety, to minimize unnecessary stress in laboratory animals, and pursue alternatives, where practical. Such guiding principles are frequently identified as the “Three Rs”:

  • Replacement: the use of alternatives to research on animals when possible, such as modeling.
  • Reduction: to increase the efficiency of experiments so as to use the minimum number of animals.
  • Refinement: the use of methods to alleviate or minimize potential pain, suffering or distress for the animals used. Non-invasive techniques represent one example of such methods.

Animal facilities at the Faculty of Tropical Medicine (FTM) are managed by the Laboratory Animal Science Unit (FTM-LAU). The Unit is responsible for monitoring laboratory animal well-being, and assuring the highest quality of animal research and personnel safety according to ethical and scientific standards. More specifically, FTM-LAU provides diets, water and bedding material, and carries out daily animal observations, cleaning and disinfection of animal spaces and work areas, cage washing, and waste disposal. Additional specialized and technical services for researchers provided by FTM-LAU include the provision of animal restraint, marking, blood and organ collection, necropsy, anesthesia and euthanasia.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC) are a vital component of animal research and are mandatory for any institution, including FTM, that uses animals for research. These committees are responsible for overseeing the use of laboratory animals, carrying out reviews and approvals of animal-use protocols, post-approval monitoring, and regular inspection of facilities and animal-use areas. The members of these committees comprise doctors in veterinary medicine, researchers experienced in research involving animals, and members of the public with a nonscientific background.