February 2021

You’re listening to the February episode of 3 Minute 3Rs.

The papers behind the pod:

1.      In Vitro Tests for Assessing the Neutralizing Ability of Snake Antivenoms: Toward the 3Rs Principles. Frontiers in Immunology https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.617429

2.      The Impact of Acute Loud Noise on the Behavior of Laboratory Birds. Frontiers in Veterinary Science https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.607632

3.      A multicomponent screen for feeding behavior and nutritional status in Drosophila to interrogate mammalian appetite-related genes. Molecular Metabolism https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molmet.2020.101127


It’s the 3rd Thursday of February and you’re listening to 3 Minute 3Rs, your monthly recap of efforts to replace, reduce, and refine the use of animals in research. This month, we’ve got work on finches and flies to feature, but first, let’s review what we know about applying the 3Rs to antivenom research.

[NA3RsC] Every year, venomous snakebites kill over 100,000 people and maim over 400,000 more. Treatment for these bites comes in the form of antivenom, which is typically made from the plasma of horses immunized with snake venom. Before being used in humans, this plasma is tested in mice to ensure that it’s safe and effective. But unfortunately, these tests require large number of mice and can cause significant pain & distress.

A new paper in Frontiers in Immunology calls for an urgent need to strengthen the implementation of the 3Rs in antivenom research. This is a challenging task due to the complexity of snake venom, but there has been progress. For replacement & reduction, the authors recommend correlated in vitro surrogate assays. For refinement, they recommend routine analgesia, improved housing, and re-designed protocols. 


To learn more about how the 3Rs can be implemented in antivenom research, read the full paper online.



[LA] Next up, we all know that noise can be a cause for concern for laboratory rodents, but what about for the other species we keep in the lab? Mitigation measures for mice and rats – for example, those low frequency, quote unquote silent fire alarms – might not be so silent for other animals. A study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science considers whether weekly fire alarm tests might be stressing out a colony of zebra finches.


Pairs of finches were recorded before and after they were exposed to the fire alarm and again during alarm-free control sessions.


Even though the alarm only lasted a few seconds and the zebra finches had been born and raised with the noise, they still took note. Movement decreased, and the usually chatty birds fell a bit silent for at least fifteen minutes following the disruption. Instead, they sat perched in the middle of their cages and increased preening of one another, a possible fear response. The results suggest more work needs to be done to assess the welfare of birds in response to noise disturbances.



And finally, can flies replace mice for obesity research?

[NC3Rs] Obesity is a serious public health issue due to its link with other co-morbidities such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Someone’s response to the modern “obesogenic” lifestyle is largely due to their genetics and murine models can be used to explore these effects. But studying genes of interest requires extensive breeding programmes and significant resources to generate and phenotype...

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