You are here

  1. Home
  2. Governance
  3. Ethics
  4. Animal Research
  5. Alternatives and improvements

Alternatives and improvements

 Mouse coming out of a tunnel

The Open University is committed to the principles of the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement).


Adopting methods which avoid or replace the use of animals - Researchers at the Open University have used the soil-living worm, Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), as a model for mammalian neurotoxicity, replacing traditional vertebrae models with invertebrate ones, in genetic experiments to identify the molecular targets of organophosphate pesticides (OP) exposure. This study will help to build a more thorough understanding of how OP exposure contributes to mood disorders.


Adopting methods which minimise the number of animals used - The OU's Biomedical Research Unit has developed a new breeding-management method for Wistar and Lister-Hooded rats, using the presence of the oestrous dance to time-mate females. This new method results in a reduction of animal use, as a smaller number of rats are required to produce new litters.


Adopting methods which minimise animal suffering and improve welfare - Staff in the Biomedical Research Unit use tunnel handling to pick up mice. This technique has been found to cause mice far less anxiety than the traditional method of handling mice by the tail.

The Open University supports and endorses the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) guidelines, developed as part of an initiative by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), to improve the design, analysis and reporting of animal research, in order to maximise the information published and minimise the number of unnecessary studies.

The Open University also endorses the PREPARE (Planning Research and Experimental Procedures on Animals: Recommendations for Excellence) guidelines. These guidelines, for planning animal studies, are complementary to reporting guidelines such as ARRIVE.