3 Minute 3Rs October 2020

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

The papers behind the pod:

1.       The epidemiology of fighting in group-housed laboratory mice. Scientific Reports https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73620-0

2.      Development of a miniaturized 96-Transwell air–liquid interface human small airway epithelial model. Scientific Reports https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69948-2

3.      Publication rate in preclinical research: a plea for preregistration. BMJ Open Science https://openscience.bmj.com/content/4/1/e100051


It’s the 3rd Thursday of October 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’ll take a look at preclinical publications and a microplate system to study small airway epithelium. But first, can we stop the fighting?

[NA3Rs] Mice, the most commonly used mammal in scientific research, can sometimes be quite aggressive to each other in their home cages which can lead to serious injuries. In fact, mouse aggression is arguably the most common preventable morbidity factor. But its risk factors are little understood.

However, a new epidemiological publication looked at mouse aggression in 60,000 cages across 1 year. They found that the biggest risk factor was housing. On average, 15% more fights were seen in individually ventilated cages with corn cob bedding than compared to static cages with wood chip bedding. Furthermore, they found that industry-standard cage-side checks for mouse aggression missed the majority of fights. They also found that fighting peaked during the summer months, on the top rack, and when racks were parallel versus perpendicular.

To learn more about their findings, read the full paper in Scientific Reports

Next, an animal free epithelium model.

[NC3Rs] The pharmaceutical industry is increasingly turning to human cell-based in vitro methods as a screening tool to identify promising drug candidates during the drug development process. Not only do these models reduce reliance on animals, they can also reduce drug attrition and provide a more cost-effective approach while allowing for higher throughput. Research into drugs for respiratory diseases is no exception to this trend, but small airway epithelial cells are particularly tricky to obtain from clinical sampling and struggle to divide ex vivo.

Overcoming these issues means maximising the information you can get out of a limited number of cells. In a new paper, Teresa Bluhmki and colleagues at Boehringer Ingelheim describe a new miniaturised method of culturing small airway epithelial cells within a 96-well plate. After four weeks, an epithelium was produced with a similar composition to those created in 24-wells, which was then validated for use in drug discovery. Another exciting feature of the method is that it can be automated, allowing for even more efficient research into treatments for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and other respiratory diseases.

Interested in learning more about this small but mighty technique? Check out the paper in Scientific Reports.


[Lab Animal] And finally, let’s shine some light on preclinical publication. It’s no secret that a lot of different animals are used in biomedical research each year. But how many of those animals end up in a publication describing the scientific results obtained with them?  If University Medical Center Utrecth is any example, not many. 

A look at a selection of animal study protocols approved...

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