Summary of Session Points
Basic vs. Applied Research
• Arbitrarily separating research into “basic” and “applied” categories could be harmful if used to determine the types of research that can or cannot be conducted:
o The line between basic and applied research is often blurred.
o The discovery of fundamental knowledge has value in its own right.
o Some basic research may have clear application toward development of treatments for nervous system diseases and disorders.
• It is not always possible to predict specific benefits to humans or animals that result from research using animals.
Animals in Neuroscience
• Rodents are the dominant mammalian species used in neuroscience research:
o Miniaturization of instrumentation has allowed rodents to replace larger animals.
o Development of transgenic mouse models has significantly increased the use of rodents.
• Refinement does not always lead to use of a species with lower cognitive abilities, such as rodents.
o Refinement of techniques can result in a decreased number of animals required for study, thus making the use of species of higher cognitive abilities, such as non-human primates, more economically feasible.
• Non-human primates continue to be used in biomedical research, including neuroscience:
o Studies in non-human primates can lead to human clinical trials.
o Non-human primate studies can complement in vitro studies, in silico model ing, human brain imaging, and parallel investigations in rodents.
o Long-term study of a single primate may involve numerous independent assessments, resulting in reliable statistical answers from a relatively small number of animals.
o Difficulties in using non-human primates in research include costs, regulatory burden, and attracting talent to the field in the face of mounting challenges.
o The potential reclassification of “moderate procedures” in long-term neuro-science studies as “severe” may impact the use of non-human primates.
Challenges Associated with New Regulations
• Increased recordkeeping requirements.
• Increased cost of conducting biomedical research without direct evidence that increased regulations result in improved animal welfare.
• Conflicting regulations from multiple agencies with multiple sets of rules.
• Compliance can require significant time and effort from dedicated IACUC staff, IACUC volunteer members, principal investigators, and laboratory staff, for writing and review of protocols and addendums, animal facility and laboratory inspections, monitoring, and reports. Training and accreditation activities can consume resources.
SOURCE: Individual panelists and participants.