3 Minute 3Rs January 2021

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

The papers behind the pod:

1.      Internal consistency and compatibility of the 3Rs and 3Vs principles for project evaluation of animal research. Laboratory Animals https://doi.org/10.1177/0023677220968583

2.      Noise and Vibration in the Vivarium: Recommendations for Developing a Measurement Plan. JAALAS https://doi.org/10.30802/AALAS-JAALAS-19-000131

3.      A human tissue screen identifies a regulator of ER secretion as a brain-size determinant. Science  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abb5390


It’s the 3rd Thursday of January and you’re listening to the first 3 Minute 3R of the new year. Each month, we recap three efforts to replace, reduce, and refine the use of animals in research. To kick off 2021, we’ll be discussing the issue of noise in the vivarium, and consider an organoid rather than animal-based approach for studying brain development. But first let’s hear about another letter-based trio: the Three Vs. 

[NC3Rs] Anyone involved in animal research must consider how to both minimise harm to animals and maximise scientific progress. The 3Rs are one framework for doing this, but they are not the only one. There’s also harm-benefit analysis, as well as the 3Vs of scientific validity – though modern definitions of the 3Rs, specifically reduction, do incorporate validity as a way to avoid unnecessary animal use. A review by Matthias Eggel and Hanno Würbel in Laboratory Animals explores further how these three ideas can work together.

They explain that while there is little internal conflict between the 3Vs, there is potential for some in the 3Rs. Specifically, between refinement and reduction, where judgements may have to be made based on “more animals experiencing less harm” versus “fewer animals experiencing more harm”. Ethical review based on harm-benefit analysis can help solve such questions. Eggel and Würbel also look at the compatibility between the 3Vs and the 3Rs, finding that any potential conflicts can be resolved either by harm-benefit analysis or by good experimental design – for example, using randomised block designs to minimise sample size while maximising reproducibility. Ultimately the authors show that these three concepts can be integrated, forming a logical structure for better animal welfare and better science.

Next, let’s make some noise – or actually, don’t.

[NA3RsC] Did you know that mice and rats can hear sounds that humans can’t? We can only hear up to 20 kHz, but mice and rats can up to 90 kHz. Furthermore, as they are nocturnal animals with relatively poor vision, noise and vibration are heavily used by rodents to navigate their environment. Unfortunately, these factors are rarely measured, can vary greatly from facility to facility or even room to room, and have the potential to cause both animal distress and be a confounding variable in scientific studies.

A new paper in the Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science outlines these concerns and presents recommendations for developing a measurement plan. For example, facilities should develop a written plan, assess noise & vibration annually and as needed, and, importantly, maintain chronic noise below the threshold of negative animal welfare or scientific impacts. To learn more, read the full paper online.

 And finally, we’ll finish with a replacement paper.


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