Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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Statement on the use of animals in research

We are committed to understanding the causes of, and treatments for, kidney disease, and to making life better for the millions of patients suffering from it.

As a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), we support the principle of using animals in research when it is necessary to advance understanding and to develop better treatments, although only where there is no alternative. All AMRC member charities support this principle, as outlined in this AMRC statement.

Why we use animals in some of our research

We support research involving animals because it has been fundamental to understanding how the human body functions and how diseases occur, and has led to the development of many of the medicines and procedures that we use today.

Our research strategy is based on understanding the basic mechanisms of kidney disease and developing solutions to its treatment and prevention. Whilst most of this involves using techniques such as cell culture, computer modelling, clinical trials and human tissue analysis, some advances do require animal-based studies. This is because animals can suffer from the same types of disease as people. Some potential therapies and biological processes can only be accurately assessed in this way.

Moreover, new medicines are required by law to be tested on animals during development. Evidence shows that patients are reassured to know that such safety studies have been carried out. The majority of 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.

Our commitment to best practice in animal experimentation

It is both a legal requirement and laboratory best practice to ensure, firstly, that the welfare of animals is maintained at all times and secondly, that alternatives to animal experimentation are used wherever possible. All research proposals are therefore rigorously peer reviewed and the use of animals approved by an ethics panel.

From time to time we do approve grants for projects involving animal experimentation. They are only awarded when researchers provide convincing arguments that, (i) the research is of sufficient importance to justify the use of animals, (ii) that it cannot be carried out using other methods, (iii) that the minimum number of animals is used to conduct the research, (iv) that they are of an appropriate species, (v) that regulations on animal welfare are adhered to at all times and carried out on licensed premises of the highest standard.

Future use of animals in research

The UK is widely considered to have the best regulations on the welfare of animals used 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 animal experimentation.

We not only support and adhere to these regulations in all the research work we fund, but also actively insist on the efforts to develop techniques that will allow medical research without requiring the use of animals. The AMRC is working closely with the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) to address this issue, and continues, with the support of its members, to maintain a responsible dialogue with all relevant parties involved in the debate about the use of animals in medical research.

Reviewed: July 2018