3 Minute 3Rs March 2021

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

The papers behind the pod:

1.      Novel three-dimensional biochip pulmonary sarcoidosis model. PLoS One https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0245805

2.      A new group housing approach for non-human primate metabolism studies. Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vascn.2020.106947

3.      The contribution of environmental enrichment to phenotypic variation in mice and rats. eNeuro https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0539-20.2021


It’s the 3rd Thursday of March 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 two refinements to cover – a paper for primates and one for rodents too. But first, let’s have some lung chips.


Despite being first described towards the end of the 19th century, a lot about sarcoidosis remains unknown. The granulomas characteristic of the disease can affect almost any organ in the body, but the lung is most commonly affected, and associated with the highest morbidity and mortality in patients.

Pulmonary granulomas can be modelled in animals, but as there is no known specific genetic component, transgenic animals representing the human condition cannot be easily created. Instead, animals are typically pre-sensitised to environmental agents, such as bacteria, and then repeatedly exposed to the same antigens to form granulomas.

Using organ-on-a-chip technology, Calcagno et al introduced granulomas, isolated from patient blood samples, to its air-lung interface. They were able to detect macrophages and lymphocytes from the developed granulomas in the interface and inflammatory cytokines being released into the culture media. As well as better understanding the mechanisms behind sarcoidosis, the system can also be used to develop new treatments, with high-throughput potential and AI compatibility. You can read more about the method by following the link in the description.

Next up, thinking beyond single housing

[NA3RsC] Before new drugs are approved by regulatory bodies, they must undergo testing to understand their absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. This is a key step in assuring their safety and efficacy. Sometimes, when there is no scientific alternative, non-human primates are used for these tests.

Traditionally, for metabolism studies animals are singly-housed in cages that limit normal vertical movement & social behaviors which negatively impacts welfare. However, recently, Novo Nordisk, Covance, & other collaborators worked together to design a refined group housing metabolism cage. This cage has extensive advantages such as more space, better socialization, and less stress. Importantly, excretion data from this cage is comparable to the singly housed cages which supports its suitability for future metabolism studies.

To read more, see the full paper online.

And finally, a reminder that enrichment is a good thing.


[LA] Researchers often to want to control as many variables as they can in their experiments. However, providing environmental enrichment is beneficial for the welfare of...

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