Working Group 1
Quality and Translatability of Science
- Coordinate meta-research on the impact of potential Refinement measures on quality of results gathered by animal experiments, including influence of concepts such as experimental study design of animal studies (Refinement, Reduction).
- Define standards for Replacement methods including more complex in vitro as well as in silico models for biomedical/basic research. Use the interdisciplinary character of the network to assess quality criteria based on e.g. human relevance or in vitro artefacts to prioritize the best method or technology. As one starting point to review toxicological pipelines and identify potential tools (e.g. experimental study design development for Replacement) and measures that can be implemented for biomedical/basic research to conduct validity testing.
- Identify reference points for validation from stakeholders perspective to refine findings and draft example ring trials for selected Replacement methods within the network.
- Communicate best practices within the network, contribute to guidances as such (e.g. OECD GIVIMP, ToxTemp (ALTEX 2019), GCCP, PREPARE, etc.) and suggest new guidance such as PREPARE documents (existing for animal studies) for specifically in silico or in vitro methods.
- Raising awareness for the interplay of descriptive and normative dimensions of animal research in general and the 3Rs Principles in particular, understanding the ethical aspects of the 3Rs Principles in the historical context of their beginnings in The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique (1959) and its recent developments and contextualization of the 3Rs Principles in contemporary animal ethics approaches such as Kantianism, Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics, Contractualism, Ethics of Care, Critical Animal Theory or other assessment tools within animal research, e.g. harm-benefit-analysis, severity limits, animal rights.
- Investigate ethical questions about reproducibility, predictability and translatability, since reproducibility and translatability are among most important normative prerequisites for the ethical justification of animal research. This includes examination of the ethical consequences of the reproducibility, predictability and translatability crisis, identifying the consequences of the reproducibility and translatability crisis for the societal trustworthiness of science and analyzing the normative premises of planning guidelines (e.g. PREPARE) and their ethical implications.
Working Group 2
- To stimulate collaboration between stakeholders in the chain of development of 3Rs or non-animal methods and technologies. Collaboration between end-users and developers (e.g. industry, regulators, biotech companies, policy makers) increases the chance that developments meet performance criteria, are fit-for-purpose and will actually be used, accepted and implemented.
- To perform method/technology assessment strategies. Every method, for the purpose of education, regulatory safety assessment, or science, has a position in the chain from research & development towards validation (scientific or in regulatory context), evaluation, acceptance and implementation. To know which actions to take towards implementation requires an assessment of the position of the method/technology in the chain and the stakeholders involved.
- To study and understand behavior of stakeholders and identify the drivers that cause them to use either (traditional) animal studies/methods or to choose for non-animal methods or combinations of them. Arguments may be diverse, e.g. ethical, common practice, scientific, ...
- Identification of implementation problems, that avoid to meet high ethical standard.
Working Group 3
- To drive innovation and improve science through development and implementation of globally accessible and easy-to-use dissemination channels. Working towards animal-free solutions is an international effort crossing not only geographical borders but also borders between disciplines. Good dissemination channels within the network can help to achieve that.
- To stimulate development and innovation of techniques through connection and communication. Focus should be on (1) 3Rs and non-animal research, with an active search for “alternatives to animal experimentation” and on (2) advanced human-derived in vitro models to better mimic e.g. human disease. The latter category is often harder to find and disseminate, as it is not labeled as “animal-free technology” but rather “human-relevant technology”.
- To share and connect activities, ideas, developments to increase critical mass and to accelerate further development, acceptation and implementation. The network will provide a broad overview of activities, ideas, and developments. The network partners will be the linking-pins for their countries and
- To facilitate the transition towards animal-free research strategies, creativity and ingenuity should be bundled. For this, a video-platform is considered a useful tool. With the use of the right platform the “better science” message will be easier to convey: all Member States will have access to activities, ideas and developments on a global scale. This will aid collaboration and finding the best possible method or technology to address their education, research or policy question.
- Examination of the normative premises of reporting guidelines (e.g. ARRIVE) and their ethical implications and identifying the practical hurdles how scientific research output can be accessible to relevant parties.
Working Group 4
- Connect educational 3Rs related activities within Europe and share experience, methodology and best practices.
- Increasing cross-disciplinary science is expected to lead to more effective research strategies, and hence, fewer animal testing. Stimulation of cross-disciplinary science starts with implementation of a cross-disciplinary learning environment. The network could organize a working group on interdisciplinary research for the purpose of fewer animal testing.
- Raising awareness for descriptive and normative dimensions of animal research in general and the 3Rs Principles in particular as important cornerstones in education.
- All the above mentioned points shall be part of the education of the 3Rs principles (Lectures, Workshops, E-Learning courses).