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Life Science Zurich Communication & Events

Award-Winning 3R Research Reduces Animal Experiments

UZH is developing alternative methods to animal experiments in line with the 3Rs principle. To highlight outstanding achievements of its members in the field of 3Rs, the university has introduced the UZH 3R Award, which has now gone to Giuseppe Esposito and Melanie Generali.

The microsurgery courses of Giuseppe Esposito use placenta models instead of animals. (Picture used with permission)

The 3Rs principle aims to replace, reduce and refine animal experiments. This involves finding alternative methods to testing hypotheses, drugs and treatments, lowering the number of animals used in experiments, and improving the conditions in which they are held or tested. “In its policy on research involving animals, UZH calls for systematic application of the 3Rs principle,” says Elisabeth Stark, Vice President Research at UZH. One example of this is that mice used in experiments are now picked up in a plastic tunnel rather than by the tail. “This is closer to their natural behavior and causes less stress,” confirms Paulin Jirkof, 3R coordinator at the University of Zurich. This is an example of refinement, which is one of the three Rs aiming to curb animal suffering in biomedical research. The two other Rs stand for replacement and reduction. Researchers can replace animal testing for example by using computer simulations or lab-grown tissue cultures. Last but not least, reduction not only means lowering the number of animal experiments but also refers to developing methods that can increase the knowledge gained from the experiments using the same number of animals.

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