WELFARE OF THE LAB ANIMALS

KU Leuven carries out basic and translational research on animals. We do this responsibly and always with a view to human welfare and with the utmost respect for our lab animals. 

We are constantly looking for alternatives to animal testing. The so-called 3 Rs are an integral part of the research policy at KU Leuven. The 3 Rs stand for reduce, refine and replace. We strive to use as few animals as possible in our research (reduce), we strive to learn as much as possible from the test results and to limit the animals’ suffering as much as possible (refine) and, wherever possible, we replace animal testing with experiments conducted in test tubes (replace). We continue to develop new test tube-based models in order limit animal testing as much as possible. 

Some research is impossible to conduct without lab animals. For each new project, we carefully weigh the use of animals with their importance for human welfare. 

Both human welfare and animal welfare is important. Animal welfare deserves continued attention, in accordance with legal requirements and ethical codes. 

An experienced veterinarian specially trained as an animal testing expert oversees the scientific testing on mice that takes place in the Tumour Xenograft Project. He also oversees the care of the animals in the animalium. He has received additional training in all aspects of working with laboratory animals. This involves considerable attention to the importance of animal welfare and to concrete measures for ensuring their well-being during the entire process. All other employees in the animalium are required to follow an animal testing course appropriate for their role in the project.

The animals in the animalium are housed and cared for according to the most recent General European Directive. The mice are kept in groups and their enclosures include materials to offset boredom and fear as much as possible. Interventions are carried out under anaesthesia. The general welfare of the mice is monitored daily.

Animal testing is necessary for our research and is of vital importance for our patients. We are unequivocally committed to the welfare of these animals. At the same time, we express our respect for those who have a different standpoint on this issue. 

The official standpoint of KU Leuven on research with lab animals can be found here