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  • Why can't animal research be replaced by alternative methods?

    Researchers at the University of Basel are already incorporating animal-free techniques such as computer models, organoids, and cell cultures into their work as much as possible. Nevertheless, certain intricate connections that have an impact on the entire organism can only be comprehended by studying live animals. This encompasses, for instance, the processes involved in complex diseases like cancer, autoimmune, and neurodegenerative diseases.

    More about the use of alternative methods at the University of Basel
    More about research projects with animals

  • For what type of research are animal experiments utilized at the University of Basel?

    The University of Basel employs animal experimentation for both basic biological and medical research as well as translational research. Basic research delves into essential biological processes, while translational research is focused on the practical application of discoveries, such as creating new, potent therapies or implementing suitable measures for safeguarding the environment. This is carried out in various domains, including but not limited to cancer research, stem cell research, immunology, and ecology.

    More about research projects involving animal research
    More about research results from animal research

  • Is it not possible to terminate animal research at least in basic research?

    The primary objective of basic research is to generate n knowledge and obtain a better understanding of the workings of nature. For instance, particle physics necessitates elementary particles, while geology demands rocks. Similarly, biology requires the study of living organisms or cells. Thanks to advances in biological research, we now possess a solid grasp of how living organisms function and interact with their surroundings. In addition, numerous discoveries derived from basic biological research have led to novel approaches in the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.

  • Is it possible to extrapolate the findings obtained through animal research to humans?

    The fundamental characteristics of all living organisms are quite similar owing to their shared ancestry; the more closely related two organisms are, the greater the similarities. For instance, the development of the embryo, the cardiovascular system, and the nervous system in mice operate on the same principle as they do in humans. Additionally, many diseases that humans suffer from also manifest themselves in animals in similar ways. Therefore, animal research allows researchers to draw conclusions about disease mechanisms and potential therapeutic approaches. Of course, differences exist between humans and animals, but these differences can also aid researchers in comprehending biological relationships and medical conditions more comprehensively.

  • Which animals are used in animal research?

    At the University of Basel, research groups most commonly use mice, and occasionally rats, fish, or chicken embryos. Invertebrates such as fruit flies and nematodes are also used.

    More about our research animals

  • Who takes care of the animals?

    At the University of Basel, the animals are housed in five animal stations, where they are cared for seven days a week by specially trained animal caretakers, led by a veterinarian. The provide the animals with water and food, clean their cages, and carefully monitor the health status of each individual animal.
    Three animal welfare officers, who are also veterinarians, assist researchers in planning and conducting experiments, and are responsible for the internal control of animal husbandry and experimentation.

    More about the animal stations
    More about the work of the animal welfare officers

  • How much do the animals suffer during an experiment?

    Unfortunately, it is not always possible to completely avoid animal harm if we want to understand diseases or develop new treatments. However, the priority in animal husbandry and among researchers is to minimize any burden. This includes a strict hygiene concept, the most species-specific housing possible, close monitoring of the animals, and, of course, the administration of pain medication when necessary.

    More on ensuring animal welfare

  • Where do the animals come from?

    The animals used for animal research are purpose-bred experimental animals and are raised under strictly controlled conditions – this is also important for the standardization of experiments. The animal facilities of the University of Basel breed mice, rats, and fish. Occasionally, we also import animals from other breeders or research groups. Transport and import are subject to strict regulations. Wild animals are only part of an experiment when they are the subject of a project – such as the goby, an invasive fish species in the Rhine.

    More about our research animals
    Black Sea goby research project in Switzerland

  • How many experimental animals does the University of Basel use per year?

    In 2022, researchers at the University of Basel used 45.386 vertebrate animals for their experiments. Most of them were mice (about 95%), followed by rats (2.8%) and fish (2%). Approximately one third of the animals were not exposed to any burden (= severity degree 0) − they were, for example, killed for the removal of tissues or organs. About 5% of the animals experienced severe burden (= severity degree 3). The number of experimental animals and the severity grades are reported to the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO).

    More figures
    More about animals in research
    More on the severity degrees
    Swiss animal research statistics 2022

  • What does the University of Basel do to avoid and improve animal research?

    The University of Basel is committed to implementing the so-called 3R principles (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement) to replace animal research as far as possible, reduce the number and burden of experimental animals, and optimize animal welfare. Whenever available, research groups use alternative methods. Some researchers at the University of Basel are also working on developing innovative methods to reduce and improve animal research.

    More about the 3Rs principle

  • Which laws regulate animal experiments?

    Animal research regulations in Switzerland are among the strictest worldwide. The basis is the Swiss Animal Welfare Act (AniWA), which defines what constitutes an animal experiment and which animal species are covered. The practical implementation – such as the handling of animals, the conduct of experiments, and the qualification of personnel – is ensured by the Animal Welfare Ordinance (AniPO), the Animal Experimentation Ordinance (AEO), and the Animal Welfare Training Ordinance (AWTO).

    More on the legal basis

  • How does the approval of animal research work?

    Researchers prepare an animal research application with the support of animal welfare officers and submit it to the Cantonal Veterinary Office for review. The Cantonal Veterinary Office, with the involvement of the Cantonal Animal Experimentation Commission, decides on the approval or rejection of the application.The balance of interests and the consideration of the 3Rs principle play an important role.

    More about the approval of animal research and ethical responsibility
    More about the 3Rs principle

  • Who monitors compliance with laws and regulations?

    The Cantonal Veterinary Office controls compliance with the applicable laws and regulations. This is achieved through regular meetings and unannounced inspections with representatives of the Animal Experimentation Commission. The objective is to ensure that animal experiments are carried out in accordance with the license. The animal welfare officers at the University of Basel are responsible for internal controls. They monitor animal care and the conduct of experiments, and assist researchers in planning and performing experiments with minimal animal burden. Additionally, the 3R coordinator at the University of Basel ensures that animal experiments are replaced, reduced, and refined whenever possible.

    More about the approval of animal research and ethical responsibility
    More about the 3Rs principle

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