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Facility for the systematic review and meta-analysis of animal studies
In biomedical science, animal experiments are conducted to improve human health. However, efforts to translate results to clinical benefit in humans are often unsuccessful. Systematic review and meta-analysis are transparent, reproducible methods to objectively summarise published studies. In animal research, systematic reviews can help to identify reasons for translational failure, promising experimental treatments, and optimal 3Rs-related experimental designs.
Our facility (CAMARADES) will provide education on systematic review of animal studies, and methodological support for researchers to perform robust, high quality reviews. Additionally, we will review published Charité animal studies to benchmark quality and 3Rs criteria, identify opportunities for improvement strategies, and monitor their impact over time.
We aim to support higher quality, more ethical animal research, which is more likely to translate to benefit in human patients.
Dr. Sarah McCann and Prof. Dr. Ulrich Dirnagl
EPIC-3R: Experimental and Preclinical Imaging Cluster to support 3R in basic and translational research
Imaging procedures can depict disease processes of the body non-invasively. They are therefore key technologies for implementing the 3Rs principles: reduce, refine, replace. For example, the number of animals can be significantly reduced (reduction) in follow-up studies while at the same time improving information by examining the course of the disease in the same animal at different points in time and by combining different imaging techniques. In addition, the low burden put on the lab animals by these examination methods resulting only from anaesthesia represents an improvement (refinement). Imaging also allows the investigation of alternatives to animal experiments such as organoid systems (replacement). In order to improve the support of multimodal studies as well as alternative methods to animal experiments, EPIC-3R will bundle different technologies at the Charité as a central service. A joint database will unite high quality data to enable their use both for other studies and for the development of virtual simulation models to replace animal experiments.
Multimodal and multiple longitudinal studies on the same animal allow the parallel collection of a wealth of data for which a significantly 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 early termination of the study can be carried out if the relevant criteria are met. One of the objectives of EPIC-3R is to develop a database that allows the re-use of the generated imaging data for future studies instead of further experiments.
Dr. rer. nat. Philipp Boehm-Sturm
PD Dr. med. Daniel Messroghli
Dr. med. vet. Nicola Beindorff
Supplements to the illustration
 A. Becker et al., “Receptor-targeted optical imaging of tumors with near-infrared fluorescent ligands,” Nat. Biotechnol., vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 327–331, Apr. 2001
 N. Beyhoff et al., “Characterization of Myocardial Microstructure and Function in an Experimental Model of Isolated Subendocardial Damage,” Hypertension, vol. 74, no. 2, pp. 295–304, Aug. 2019.