The numerous independent research facilities with animal husbandry within the University of Münster (WWU) are all supervised by veterinarians via the veterinary team of the Central Animal Experimental Facility (ZTE - Zentrale Tierexperimentelle Einrichtung) of the medical faculty. In addition to animal husbandry, the ZTE is also responsible for the cryopreservation of transgenic lines. In cooperation with the Staff Office for Occupational Safety and Environmental Protection (StabAU - Stabstelle Arbeits-und Umweltschutz) of the WWU, the ZTE also offers training and continuing education in the proper handling of laboratory animals. The Animal Welfare Team in the StabAU assumes the prescribed advisory and supervisory function as well as the examination of animal experiment applications. To improve animal protection and welfare, the WWU Rectorate maintains a cross-faculty coordination commission for animal experimental research, which has developed a mission statement on the ethical treatment of animals in scientific research and teaching. In addition, a Topical Program "3T: Tierschutz, Tierwohl, Tierethik" (Animal protection, animal welfare, animal ethics) has been established, in which cross-faculty researchers investigate the question of which practical, institutional measures are necessary for animal welfare.
WWU has established a professorship in the Department of Biology/Procedural Research that investigates alternatives to animal experimentation, informative value and reproducibility, and optimized husbandry conditions as well as diagnostics for the welfare of laboratory animals. With the Multiscale Imaging Center, a multidisciplinary research building has now been created in which scientists decipher holistic relationships between cellular mechanisms and the function of organs in the organism. Further non-invasive methods to reduce animal experiments are also being developed in this research complex. Organoid cultures and iPS cell-based models are already established models among many research groups at WWU to replace animal experiments.
Objective / Focus
The NRW-wide "3R Competence Network" offers a new opportunity for exchange, e.g. among animal welfare officers or researchers from the various medical faculties in NRW. Research in 3R areas can be actively advanced via the network. In the future, the network should be made accessible to all interested universities and the departments involved in animal experiments, in addition to medicine. In human medicine, minimally invasive methods are increasingly used in surgical procedures, which is also a very interesting starting point for animal research in terms of the 3Rs.
Replacement methods such as organoids, iPS cells or 3D cultures need to be better evaluated in order to better assess their use as replacement methods for specific scientific questions. Mathematical modeling and artificial intelligence training (deep learning) should be further developed. Research and development on new intervention methods/techniques or low-stress in vivo imaging methods that allow longitudinal studies in experimental animals should be further advanced.