Animal Research 2019
Find out about animal species, genetic status, degree of stress and intended use in 2019:
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How many laboratory animals and which animal species were used at Charité in 2019?
In 2019, a total of 51.842 laboratory animals were reported to the authorities by Charité. Of these, around 86 per cent were mice, followed by rats with 12,5 per cent. Fish accounted for 0,6 per cent and pigs and guinea pigs 0,7 and 0,3 per cent. Other animal species used for scientific purposes at Charité in 2019 were sheep, rabbits, goats and golden hamsters, with a total of 0,3 per cent.
Mice are not only the most frequently used animals in research at Charité, but worldwide. Since the mouse genome was decoded in 2002, it has been known that the genes of mice and humans are 98 per cent identical, and there are great parallels especially in the nervous system and in reproduction. Many diseases that afflict humans are also found in mice - for example, cancer, infections or diabetes. Much of what we know today about the development of cancer and preventive measures is due to research on mice. With their help, most of the cancer therapies and drugs commonly used today could be developed.
What was the proportion of transgenic animals at Charité in 2019?
About 23.000 of the animals used in animal experiments pursuant to § 7 paragraph 2 of the Animal Protection Act in 2019 were genetically modified. The proportion of so-called transgenic animals was thus 45,4 per cent. Transgenic mice and fish were used, especially zebrafish.
Many questions can be investigated well with zebrafish because the eggs of the fish develop outside the womb and are transparent, so that the development of the cells and organs can be observed well. For example, you can see how the heart begins to beat and how the blood vessels grow. In the zebrafish, researchers can also trigger mutations relatively easily and thus specifically investigate the effects of genetic changes on the organism. In this way, important insights have already been gained into human diseases such as Alzheimer's, congenital heart defects, cancer or kidney diseases.
What levels of stress were the laboratory animals at Charité exposed to in 2019?
The categories of stress levels and how experiments must be classified into these categories are defined in Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The majority of animal experiments at Charité in 2019 involved either low (36,8 per cent) or moderate (37,4 per cent) animal distress, while the proportion of severe animal distress experiments was just under 5 per cent.
The proportion of animal experiments conducted entirely under general anaesthesia, from which the animals did not awaken, was 21 per cent. This category includes experiments in which all procedures are performed under a single anaesthetic from which the animals do not awaken. It also includes animals that are killed for scientific purposes, for example to examine cell or tissue samples. They are included in the statistics under "No recovery of vital function".
In all experiments involving stress, scientists are obliged to minimise it by using painkillers and reducing stress. Prospectively, they must weigh the burden against the expected medical and scientific benefit when submitting the application. In principle, the 3R rule (reduce, refine, replace) applies: this means that researchers must keep the number of experimental animals as low as possible, minimise pain and suffering and use substitute and supplementary methods whenever possible.
In which areas were laboratory animals used at Charité in 2019?
At Charité, the largest share of animals in 2019 was used in basic biomedical research, at around76 per cent, and about 12 per cent in clinical research. Clinical or translational research combines basic research with the practical application of research results, i.e. the translation of preclinical research into clinical development leading to therapies for patients.
About 2,7 per cent of the animals were used for toxicological or regulatory purposes. This area of legally prescribed testing includes, for example, preclinical testing of medical products or medicines. About 1,8 per cent of the animals were used for the education or training of scientists and animal caregivers working with animal experiments.