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Could an animal studies dataset help reduce their use?


After sifting through vast numbers of research studies that used animals, scientists believe they have a basic set of data that could help limit the need for additional animal studies in future.

The research – published in LabAnimal and led by the Berlin Institute of Health at EARA member Charité, Germany; Tecniplast, Italy; and the Roche Innovation Center Basel, Switzerland – aimed to address the vast amount of data that is generated from animal research, some of which can be wasted, or not incorporated into future studies, leading to excess animals being used.

Using metadata (the information that describes and explains data, such as how it was collected), the group created a basic metadata set that resembles a ‘checklist’ (based on ARRIVE guidelines and FAIR data principles) including housing conditions, imaging and the age of the animals, which currently must always be documented in animal studies.

It is hoped that the information could eventually help to improve the sharing of data between researchers, increase transparency of animal research and ultimately the ability to reproduce it and avoid duplicating the use of animals.

First author Leonardo Restivo, at UNIL, said: “For the moment, it’s a solid base proposed by our research team. The idea is for scientists, stakeholders and decision-makers to take it up and develop it further.” 

Also involved in the research were Novartis and the University of Lausanne (UNIL), both Switzerland, the Weizmann Institute in Israel, and EARA member Charles River Netherlands.


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