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One of TNO’s goals in the refinement of animal testing is to reduce the discomfort that laboratory animals experience. We work towards developing alternative methods and, where possible, implement these improvements directly.
We foster a stimulating environment in which our employees are encouraged to come up with their own ideas to make our research more animal friendly. Once we have ascertained that methods are an improvement and deliver the same research results, we make the new methods available to others.
In 2010, TNO won first prize from the Dutch Commission for the Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of Animal Testing for its work to decrease the discomfort animals experience in inhalation tests. The annual prize is awarded to animal caretakers or technicians who have made a substantial contribution to 3R practices. The winning improvement is an adjusted laboratory set-up that reduces the stress and discomfort of animals in inhalation tests. At TNO, approximately 500-700 rats are used in inhalation testing. In 50-70% of the cases (in young and female animals) the new set-up can be used. The set-up reduces the discomfort those animals experience due to the testing. The adjustment is an improvement upon commercially available materials.
After determining that the adjustment reduces the discomfort caused by the test, TNO contacted the supplier of the materials. The producer expressed interest and has joined TNO in looking into the possibilities of making the adjusted materials available to other users.