LMB Animal Research Facts and Figures
Each year, all UK research establishments must report the previous year’s number of regulated procedures on protected animals to the Home Office. This is known as the “Return of Procedures”. The Home Office collate and publish these numbers in a report entitled the “Statistics of scientific procedures on living animals”.
Severity of regulated procedures undertaken at the LMB in 2022
Types of procedures and their severity
“A procedure is regulated if it is carried out on a protected animal for a scientific purpose and may cause that animal a level of pain, suffering, distress, or lasting harm equivalent to, or higher than, that caused by inserting a hypodermic needle according to good veterinary practice.” Animal Scientific Procedures Act (ASPA)
Procedures can only be carried out if the correct permissions are in the necessary Home Office Licences and if staff have been trained and assessed competent. All LMB Project Licences (programme of research using animals authorised by the Home Office) must be ethically approved by the LMB Animal Welfare & Ethical Review Body, prior to being sent to the Home Office, for final approval. We work to ensure that the least harmful and most refined versions of procedures are undertaken as per the 3Rs.
We also report on the actual severity experienced by each animal. Each regulated procedure has an associated severity classification and there are 5 of these:
Subthreshold: the procedure has little impact on the animal’s welfare.
For example, breeding healthy genetically modified animals or handling animals to give them a routine health check.
Mild: a procedure which may result in only slight transitory or minor pain, which the animal recovers from within a short period of time.
For example, an injection of a hormone to induce ovulation or an injection associated with taking a small blood sample
Moderate: a procedure which is non-life threatening, however the animal is likely to experience short-term moderate pain, suffering or distress .
For example, a surgical procedure, which would be carried out under anaesthesia with pain relief given. A common example of this would be surgery undertaken to implant genetically modified mouse eggs into a female recipient mouse.
Severe: the procedure causes a major departure from the animal’s usual state of well-being.
The LMB does not conduct any severe procedures and no LMB Project Licences contain permissions for severe protocols.
Note: The Home Office consider all unexpected animal deaths to be reported as severe, regardless of the protocol the animal is held under. This explains why the LMB has reported some severe classifications.
For example, sometimes the first litter from an inexperienced mother will not thrive as well as future litters.
Non-recovery: The entire procedure will be carried out under anaesthesia and the animal will be humanely killed without regaining consciousness.
For example, if a large volume of blood is required for analysis at the end of a protocol.
Animal species used in LMB research programmes
“A protected animal is any living vertebrate, other than a human, including certain immature forms, and any living cephalopod.” Animal Scientific Procedures Act (ASPA)
Mice and rats are used in LMB research programmes. The following table shows the number of procedures recorded for mice and rats at the LMB, in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
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