Two researchers introduced the concept of 3Rs in the 1950s. It is an international shortening that stands for replace, reduce and refine. Everyone who uses animals for scientific purposes within EU shall implement the principles of the 3Rs in their work.
The researchers named William Russell and Rex Burch introduced the concept of 3Rs in an article in 1957. They proposed that researchers should constantly strive to use as few animals as possible and at the same time reduce suffering and improve animal welfare during experiments. Replacement, reduction and refinement will give you healthy animals and better research.
Today, the 3Rs principles are embodied into both Swedish and European legislation for using animals in research. This means that everyone who uses animals for scientific purposes shall implement the 3Rs in their work.
Replace refers to experiments that can replace live animals with other alternative methods that do not use live animals.
Animal experiments can only be replaced if there are animal free methods that give comparable information to the animal experiment.
Here are some examples of methods that have replaced animal experiments:
Reduce refers to experiments where the same knowledge and quality of data can be attained but using fewer animals than before. If you get more information from one single animal instead of using several animals that is also considered reducing the number of animals used in experiments.
These are some examples of how to reduce the number of animals in research:
Refine means that you make sure that your laboratory animals experience as little pain, suffering, discomfort and anxiety as possible, compared to previous comparable studies.
Refine also means that you can improve animal welfare and provide your laboratory animals with better life quality, for example by enriched material and larger spaces.
Here are some examples of refinement:
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