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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-health-england-phe-research-involving-animals/number-of-animals-used-2017
The following tables provide the numbers of animals used, per species, at our scientific campuses at Porton, Colindale and Chilton, in 2017.
Read more about how and why we use animals in research.
|Site||Mice||Rats||Guinea Pigs||Rabbits||Ferrets||Turkeys||Non-human primates (NHPs)|
All animals were used for the development and testing of vaccines or therapies to counteract diseases that cause a direct threat to human health world-wide. These include:
- tuberculosis (TB)
- Clostridium difficile (C.diff) infection
- bacterial sepsis
- haemorrhagic fever viruses such as West Nile fever and Congo-Crimean haemorrhagic fever
- Zika virus
In some cases, these include antibiotic strains or new and exotic infections. The majority of work (77%) involving mice, guinea pigs and ferrets was classified as having mild or moderate severity with the remainder classified as severe.
Non-human primates (NHPs) are used only when other species are considered not to be suitable and, due to their close similarity to human immunology and physiology, are typically used where a therapy or vaccine is near to use in the clinic. All procedures involving NHPs were classified as mild and these studies have provided information to support the development of:
- a new TB vaccine
- human experimental medicine studies that include the re-purposing of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine through administration by alternative routes such as aerosol
- human challenge model that would reduce the need for animals in vaccine assessment
The ferret model of influenza infection was used to compare the efficacy of a novel vaccine adjuvant with that of the one currently licenced for human use. The new product performed well and the sponsors will now take this forward for use with seasonal flu and other vaccines.
The hamster model of C. difficile infection was used to develop and refine an antibody-based oral treatment and a mouse model of sepsis was used successfully to develop a novel vaccine against Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection of the bloodstream. Work continues to widen protection against the wide number of serotypes circulating in the human population.
Examples of our commitment to application of the 3Rs include the replacement of animals by developing in vitro methods of assessing Ebola virus infection and refinement and reduction through the use of advanced medical imaging to assess early progression of TB disease in life without the need for necropsy.
Porton Biopharma Limited (PBL)
PBL’s work is focussed on quality-assured development of biopharmaceuticals, including Erwinase, a childhood leukaemia therapy and regulatory testing of the UK’s anthrax vaccine. This work involves mainly mice and guinea pigs. More than half of this work was classified as mild or moderate whilst the remainder was classified as severe. Further information is available on the PBL website.
Mice were used to investigate the impact of environmental hazards on the body. This included understanding radiation-induced damage to the eye lens, as well as investigating how radiation may contribute to leukaemia or intestinal tumours. Such work is important for understanding the potential effects of ionising radiation on exposed individuals.
Animals were also used to examine effects of non-ionising radiation on the brain and responses to inhaled nanoparticles, diesel particles and/or dust mite allergens. These studies were performed to address potential concerns over the radiation emitted from mobile devices, and the potential physiological effects of air pollution on normal individuals and those with underlying respiratory disorders such as asthma. The majority of these animals were classified as having mild severity with some classified as moderate.
Ferrets were used for antiserum production. Ferrets are very susceptible to infection with human influenza viruses and their respiratory tract is very similar to that of a human, more so than other animals. We use turkeys and guinea pigs to provide blood for important influenza laboratory screening and diagnostic tests. All these were classified as having mild or non-recovery severity. Mice were used to detect bacterial toxins from clinical samples.
An assay for detecting biologically active toxin was recently published by colleagues at CDC and we will explore the possibility of using such an assay with the potential for reducing and possibly replacing the bioassay in the future.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted pathogen that causes ano-genital and oropharyngeal disease in males and females. The high-risk HPV genotypes which are known to cause approximately 70% of all cervical cancers worldwide, and there are other types of HPV which are known to cause an additional 20%. In addition, we know that there are 2 specific types of HPV that cause approximately 90% of anogenital warts.
Mice were used for HPV antisera production. This study was conducted in order to generate sera (antibodies) against the most common types of HPV. It was necessary to use mice for this test because no such product exists commercially or within the research community. Monitoring HPV type –specific vaccine induced antibodies is an essential aspect of the implementation of vaccine development for the prevention of HPV. This test is classified as mild.
Details of research funding, PhD studentships and peer reviewed publications resulting from our work with animals are included in the PHE research: annual review.