Response to the Animal Justice Project Universities Rabbit Campaign:
Research involving animals continues to make a vital contribution to the understanding, treatment and control of a range of major health problems including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and mental illness. While new methods have enabled researchers to considerably reduce work involving animals, there is overwhelming scientific consensus that some work must continue for further fundamental advances to be made.
The University is committed to the principles of reduction, refinement and replacement of animal models. For each of our research projects this ensures, as far as is reasonably practicable, that no non-animal alternative is possible, that the number of animals used is minimised and that procedures and standards of care are refined to maximise welfare.
The University uses rabbits in research to help develop new antimicrobial agents for babies, children and adults for treatment of diseases that currently have few, if any, treatment options. Rabbit models are used to identify safe and effective dosages of new drugs that can then be studied in clinical trials. This work has led to the approval of new drugs for babies and is providing a pathway for the study of new antibiotics to treat bacterial infections that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics.
The University has a dedicated vet and a highly skilled team of animal care staff who oversee the welfare and husbandry of all of animals, including Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers (NACWOs) who are on 24-hour call. Rabbits are housed in specifically designed floor-housed pens to allow them to exhibit their natural behaviours, with bedding, nesting materials, a balanced diet and enrichment toys and treats provided daily. They are housed in socially adjusted groups whenever possible and only ever housed individually for welfare or monitoring purposes.
As a signatory of the Concordat on Openness in Animal Research, the University is committed to being open and transparent about the use of animals in our research. For further information please visit https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/research-integrity/animal-research/.
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