EPIC – Experimental and Preclinical Imaging Cluster to support the 3R principles in basic and translational research
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Imaging techniques can depict physiological and pathological processes of the body non-invasively. They are therefore key technologies for implementing the 3R principles: replace, reduce, refine. The use of combined imaging methodologies and longitudinal imaging – i.e. imaging the same animal at different time points - allows the number of animals to be significantly reduced (reduction) while at the same time gaining improved information by combining different imaging techniques. In addition, the low burden put on the animals by these imaging methods (resulting primarily from anesthesia) represents an improvement (refinement). Imaging further allows the investigation of alternatives to animal experiments such as organoid systems, to provide valuable data for computer-based modeling (replacement). Multimodal and multiple longitudinal studies on the same animal allow the collection of a wealth of different data for which a many-fold higher number of animals would be required with invasive procedures. The information is used for scientific evaluation and for monitoring the health status of the animals, so that the study can be terminated early if the relevant criteria are met.
In order to better support multimodal studies as well as alternative methods to animal experiments, various imaging technologies at Charité and MDC will be organizationally bundled under one roof in EPIC-3R. A joint database of the generated images will bring together high quality data to allow their re-use both for other studies and for the development of virtual simulation models to ultimately replace animal experiments.
Events for researchers and students will further network the imaging community and promote use of EPIC technologies in the sense of the 3Rs.