3 Minute 3Rs July 2021

It’s the 3rd Thursday of July and you’re listening to 3 Minute 3Rs, your monthly recap of efforts to replace, reduce, and refine the use of animals in research. 

The papers behind the pod: 

This month, we’ll be covering welfare for rat moms and an animal-free option for practicing your surgical skills.  But first, let’s hear about an in vitro model for COVID-19 research.  

[NC3Rs] As researchers around the world fight against COVID-19, in vitro models continue to gain traction. As well as reducing reliance on animals, they offer a cost-effective approach for generating models on a large scale. This is particularly useful for high-throughput drug screening, making in vitro models a key tool in the search for effective COVID-19 treatments. 

A recent paper in Stem Cells by Ivo Djidrovski and colleagues describes an upper airway model derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. These allow a large number of cells of different types to be generated without relying on primary samples, which can vary considerably between donors. 

The model can produce mucus and functional cilia and replicates the behaviour observed in vivo when infected with SARS-CoV-2. The team’s next step will be to incorporate immune cell components into the model to further increase its relevance. 

Want to learn more about how stem cells could play a key role in fighting COVID? Follow the link in the description. 

[Speaking of COVID...] 

[NA3RsC] Were you locked down in a small apartment with multiple young children during the pandemic? If so, you probably wanted a break from them. New research shows that rat moms also want a break from their pups.  

In standard housing, rat dams are unable to spend time away from their pups due to caging set-up. But a recent study by researchers at University of British Columbia explores how providing a loft effects dam welfare. 

They found that as pups age, dams with lofts spend more time in their lofts, less time nursing, and, specifically, less time passively nursing. By the time that pups are 3 weeks old, dams will actually spend 50% of their time in their lofts. Furthermore, dams without a loft may show signs of negative affect. 

Want to learn more about giving rat dams a break from their pups? Read the full paper online in Plos One. 


[Lab Animal] And finally, let’s talk about rodent surgery. Building up those surgical skills takes practice. The more complicated the procedure, the more time you’ll need to spend perfecting your technique before you’re ready to move on to a live...

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