Animal research

Annual animal research figures released

Mouse in biological research facility. Credit: Francis Crick Institute

The Francis Crick Institute has released its 2021 animal research statistics, as part of its commitment to open animal research.

Each year, the Crick publishes the number, type and severity of procedures involving animals performed at the institute. In 2019 and 2022, Crick was recognized as one of the UAR’s leading openers.

The latest figures, which are included in the government’s statistics on scientific procedures on live animals in 2021, show that 183,363 procedures were carried out at The Crick last year. Of these, 91% involved mice, followed by zebrafish, 9%.

A list of the ten UK institutions that performed the most procedures on animals in 2021 has been published by Understanding Animal Research (UAR), with Crick appearing second on the list.

The procedures reported were part of research into diseases affecting humans, including: various types of cancer; neurological conditions such as stroke and dementia; and infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, COVID-19 and influenza. Procedures also included creating genetically modified animals, breeding and maintaining established genetically modified mice and fish.

All of Crick’s research follows the 3Rs approach to animal use, which means:

  • Animals are only used if there is no non-animal method to achieve the same scientific goal
  • The number of animals used is reduced to a minimum
  • There is ongoing work to refine and improve housing, care and experimental procedures, to minimize animal suffering.

Jan-Bas Prins, Director of Crick’s Biological Research Facility (BRF), says: “The number of procedures performed at Crick has remained fairly stable from 2020 to 2021 and is down from the years before the pandemic. Crick has commits to the 3Rs and to providing a research environment where development and access to non-animal methods is a given.”

Case study: how gene editing could improve the way we use animals in research

In December 2021, scientists at Crick published research demonstrating how they used CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to create female-only and male-only mouse litters with 100% efficiency.

The method uses a two-part genetic system to inactivate embryos shortly after fertilization, allowing only the desired sex to develop. Such a genetic-based method to control the sex of offspring could significantly reduce culling in agriculture and research, industries where there is often a need for male or female animals.

James Turner, author and group leader of the Sex Chromosome Biology Laboratory at Crick says: “This work could have immediate and valuable impact in science labs, as we have shown how safe and effective it is in mice, a common mammal used in medical and scientific research. Although much research requires both genders, there are areas of study where only one is needed. For example, when studying the reproductive system, gender-specific diseases, or certain hormones .

More information and figures from previous years can be found on the Crick webpage.

Gene editing used to create single-sex mouse litters

Provided by the Francis Crick Institute

Quote: Animal Research Annual Issues Published (2022, June 30) retrieved August 8, 2022 from

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