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Classification of the Non-technical Project Summaries with ICD Codes

Systematic evaluation of the non-technical project summaries on animal experiments

With the entry into force of the amendment to the Animal Welfare Act on July 12, 2013 and of the Regulation on the welfare of animals used for experiments on August 13, 2013, each application for approval of an animal experiment project must be accompanied by an easily understandable (or "non-technical") project summary (NTS).

The NTS is part of the application for an animal experiment and includes a brief description of the expected benefits of the project, the expected harms done to the laboratory animals, as well as the number and type of animals used and the measures taken by the scientist to comply with the 3R principle.

The Bf3R systematically evaluates the NTS to specifically identify research areas for which a constantly high number of animal experiments are approved. In these areas, the development of alternative methods as well as measures to reduce animal numbers and to improve the welfare of laboratory animals is particularly useful, as many animals would benefit from it.

AnimalTestInfo database

The BfR publishes the NTS in the AnimalTestInfo database (www.animaltestinfo.de), which is exemplary within the European Union because it features a comprehensive search function. In biomedical research, the NTS represent an important source of information that has so far rarely been analysed. In order to identify the research fields in which animal experiments are performed and thus to increase transparency in biomedical research, the BfR indexes NTS with ICD codes. The ICD code is a classification system of the World Health Organization, which is used to classify human disease conditions.

Identifying fields of action for more animal welfare

By annotating NTS with ICD codes, it is possible to identify research areas in which many animal experiments are approved over an extended period of time. For example, in the areas of tumor research, cardiovascular research and diseases of the nervous system, a high number of animal experiments are approved each year. In these areas, the development of 3R measures would be particularly effective, as many laboratory animals could benefit. Science, research funders and politics can use this information to identify the fields of action for more animal welfare. The results of the systematic review of 2014 and 2015 have already been published (Bert et al. 2017. PLoS Biol 15 (12): e2003217).

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