The use of animals in research

1. Summary

Alzheimer's Society is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and supports its position statement on the use of animals in research

Alzheimer's Society and its trustees believe that funding animal research is essential to understanding dementia and developing effective treatments. Medical research that uses animals has brought major improvements to the health and well-being of humans, for example deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson's disease.

Research using animals can only be carried out where there is no practicable alternative and must be licensed by the Home Office. Alzheimer's Society fully supports the principle of the 3Rs - the replacement, refinement and reduction of the use of animals in research. In cases where animal research is justified, the minimum number of animals is used and researchers maintain the highest standards of animal welfare. 

2. Animals used in research

Three-quarters of Alzheimer's Society research, both as a proportion of the amount spent on research and the number of grants, does not involve animals. This includes test-tube and cell culture experiments, clinical trials, psychosocial research and epidemiological surveys.

Research funded by Alzheimer's Society that does use animals uses mice, rats and fruit flies. Alzheimer's Society does not currently fund any research that uses primates. 

3. Research design

Alzheimer's Society plans its research carefully to ensure that it is relevant, well-designed and avoids duplication. The use of animals has to be justified in every project and is subject to robust peer review. In cases where animal research is justified, the minimum number of animals is used and researchers maintain the highest standards of animal welfare. 

Alzheimer's Society fully supports the laws that regulate use of animals in research. Alzheimer's Society requires the scientists it funds to comply with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and supplementary guidance from the Home Office. These regulations are among the most comprehensive in the world.

4. Respecting the views of Alzheimer's Society donors on use of animals in research

Alzheimer's Society recognises that some donors and supporters have moral objections to the use of animals in research. Alzheimer's Society fully respects the wishes of donors who want to support research that does not use animals.  

5. References and further information

Last updated: April 2015

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