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Humane endpoints: Scientists

Ferret looking up at camera © RSPCA

Although UK legislation clearly states that the responsibility for the implementation of humane endpoints sits with the personal licensee, it is important that advice is taken from animal technologists or veterinarians, who are well placed to help identify appropriate criteria for humane endpoints when to implement them. It is imperative that there is a pre-agreed plan of action between animal technologists, the veterinarian and the researcher regarding how humane endpoints are applied.

Experimental protocols should be designed to allow for the earliest possible alleviation of suffering.  This may require a shift towards ‘mechanism driven’ (biomarker or pathway specific) experimental endpoints in some disciplines rather than phenotypic or disease driven endpoints. It may be argued that more useful data can be obtained from an animal not experiencing severe morbidity or imminent death, even if they are being used to model (or test potential therapies for) severe clinical disease. For ongoing studies, it is important from time to time to reflect on current endpoints and to consider whether further refinements could be applied. Discussion with ‘named persons’ and the AWERB or AWB are useful in identifying areas where further 3Rs advances can be made.

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