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SMAFIRA - Artificial Intelligence for Finding Alternative Methods

Before an animal experiment may be conducted as part of a scientific project, it needs to be approved by a competent authority. For this purpose, a researcher has to submit an application for approval in which the fulfillment of scientific and legal requirements is outlined. Part of this application is a thorough literature search to ensure that the planned animal experiment cannot be replaced by an alternative method. Such an alternative would be, for example, a method or procedure that is suitable to answer a specific scientific question without the use of live (vertebrate) animals, e.g., in vitro procedures.

A Search Engine for Alternative Methods to Animal Experiments

Although there are already search engines and literature databases for biomedical questions, which also provide semantic techniques, there is still no satisfactory solution for the search for alternative methods to animal experiments.

Therefore, the Bf3R has set itself the goal to develop a search engine for alternative methods to animal experiments that is based on the freely accessible biomedical literature database PubMed (Medline). 'SMAFIRA' is an acronym for 'SMArt Feature based Interactive RAnking'. In the future, SMAFIRA shall enable the applicants for an animal experiment to find suitable suggestions for alternative methods to an animal experiment by means of reference documents (reference publications from PubMed) describing a concrete animal experiment. Furthermore, the search engine should rank the results of the search (hit list of literature citations) with respect to their thematic correspondence to the given reference document and their relevance as a potential alternative method to the respective animal experiment. SMAFIRA incorporates 'state-of-the-art' methods of text mining (e.g. 'Information Retrieval', 'Named-Entity Recognition' or 'Relation Extraction') and machine learning (e.g. 'Neural Networks').

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