We are committed to understanding what causes kidney disease and to discover new and better ways to treat it, so we can make life better for the millions of patients suffering from the condition.
As a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), we support the principle of using animals in research to advance understanding and to develop better treatments, but only where there is no alternative.
Why we use animals in research
Research involving animals has been fundamental to understanding how the human body works and how diseases develop. It has been a vital step in developing many of the medicines and procedures we use today.
Our research strategy is based on understanding kidney disease and developing ways to prevent and treat it. While this involves growing and studying cells, computer modelling, statistically analysing data, clinical trials and analysing human tissue, some research questions do need to use animals where none of these other methods can find the answer. Animals can suffer from the same types of disease as people, and some potential treatments and biological processes can only be accurately assessed in this way.
Aside from this, medicines are legally required to be tested on animals during development as a crucial safety step before they are tested in people. Most people in the UK believe that it is appropriate to use animals in medical research as long as suffering is minimised and there is no alternative.¹
Our commitment to best practice in animal research
By UK law, animals should only be used in research where there is no alternative way of answering a research question, and high standards of animal welfare must always be maintained where the research is carried out.
All of the research proposals that come to us go through a rigorous peer review process which checks that the research is well designed, justified and will answer the research question.
From time to time, we approve grants for research involving animal research. Researchers who carry out research using animals must have the appropriate Home Office licences in place.
Our peer review process considers the three R’s² (replacement, reduction and refinement) when checking the proposal. They are only awarded when researchers provide convincing arguments that:
- the research is sufficiently important to justify using animals
- the research cannot be carried out using any other methods, and the study is well designed
- the minimum number of animals is used to conduct the research
- they are the right species to study the questions the research aims to answer
- regulations on animal welfare will be adhered to at all times and carried out in licensed premises of the highest standard by licensed researchers.
Animal use in future research
The UK continues to have the tightest and best animal welfare regulations in research in the world. The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and accompanying Home Office guidance set out the safeguards of animal welfare whilst allowing important research that requires animals to be used.
We will not support any research that doesn't adhere to these legal requirements and regulations. We will continue to encourage our researchers to find alternative ways to carry out research without using animals, for example using cells, human tissue biopsies and blood samples.
Reviewed: May 2021