1. Why are animal experiments necessary?
For the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, most of the methods used today and all of the drugs available have been and are being developed with the help of animal experiments. In connection with the development of new drugs, animal testing is required by law in order to provide the highest possible level of safety and efficacy for humans. Due to this biomedical research, countless diseases have been cured, alternative therapies with fewer side effects have been identified, and symptoms of disease have been alleviated.
Unfortunately, there are still no or inadequate treatment options for a number of serious diseases. In addition, some diseases can only be treated by means of drugs with very severe side effects. In all these cases, new treatment approaches are urgently needed and are therefore the center of biomedical–therapeutic research.
2. What is NUVISAN ICB GmbH currently researching with animals?
Currently, NUVISAN ICB GmbH is testing the efficacy of new treatments for various oncological (cancer) diseases, neuropathies, arthritis, overactive bladder, skin diseases, and liver diseases. In the future, we plan to further expand the disease areas, including lung, kidney, and cardiovascular diseases.
In addition, the scientists are conducting studies to investigate the effects of a drug on the body, the changes in a drug caused by metabolism, and the dosage that can be used. These results make it possible to predict the tolerable use of a drug in humans.
For each animal experiment requiring approval, the scientists draft non-technical project summaries. These provide information about the purpose of the experiment and are made available to the public Europe-wide via https://animaltestinfo.de/, as required by the Animal Welfare Act.
3. Is NUVISAN allowed to conduct animal experiments “just like that?”
There are strict legal requirements for the performance of animal experiments, which NUVISAN ICB GmbH conscientiously follows.
Applications for approval must be submitted to the responsible authority, the Berlin Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales, for scientists to be allowed to conduct animal experiments. This is done in a full approval procedure or, in the case of legally required animal experiments, in a simplified approval procedure. The authority examines the scientific purpose, detailed experimental descriptions and plans, animal species, and numbers of animals to determine whether they are suitable for achieving the experimental objective and take sufficient account of animal welfare. In particular, the requirements of the 3Rs principle must be implemented (replace, reduce, refine) and explained in the application. If the scientific question can be answered by an animal-free alternative method, no animal experiment may be carried out (replace). Good statistical planning must ensure that only as few animals as possible are used in the experiment (reduce). The R for refinement guarantees that everything is done to keep stress on the animals as low as possible. This is reflected, for example, in the choice of the optimal analgesic, improved housing, and the gentlest handling and training of the animals.
In addition, the scientists must justify their experiments ethically and weigh the expected gain in knowledge against the stress on the animals. These documents are often over 60 pages long. The animal welfare officers of NUVISAN ICB GmbH are closely involved in these approval processes and advise on animal welfare and alternative methods.
Only after approval by the authorities may the animal experiment be started.
4. Can anyone perform animal experiments?
In order to be allowed to conduct animal experiments, scientists, laboratory technicians, and animal caretakers need specific qualifications. They must be particularly familiar with the species of animals used in experiments and the interventions involved, and they must know how to recognize the stresses on the animals and which treatment is required. Knowledge of legal principles and ethical considerations is also expected. This qualification is typically gained through education and certified courses. Annual continuing education courses in laboratory animal science are also required.
In addition, scientists must have worked practically in animal experiments for several years before they are allowed to conduct animal experiments.
5. How are the animals handled?
Respectful handling of laboratory animals and the avoidance of any unnecessary stress or suffering of the animals is our top priority. Every employee wants to prevent any animal from suffering unnecessarily. In order to be allowed to work with laboratory animals, very high training requirements must always be fulfilled. In addition, all employees are continuously trained—as required by German law—to ensure the highest possible standards.
During the experiments, the laboratory animals are handled as carefully as possible and are prepared for the experiments by extensive training. In this way, the laboratory animals are subjected to as little stress as possible. New techniques such as the collection of minute blood samples (in the microliter range) also ensure a further reduction of stress during the experiments.
During the experiments, the animal welfare officers of NUVISAN ICB GmbH continuously monitor and advise the scientists and those conducting the experiments.
6. Who is responsible for animal husbandry?
NUVISAN ICB GmbH has a high-quality, modern, and strictly controlled laboratory animal facility. The husbandry facilities have been approved by the authorities and are inspected regularly.
A professionally qualified animal house manager is responsible for the keeping of the animals. In close cooperation with the animal welfare officer, a specialist veterinarian for laboratory animal science, the housing conditions are constantly reviewed and improved. Animal house management and animal welfare officers, as well as other veterinarians of NUVISAN ICB GmbH, ensure the veterinary care of the laboratory animals 24 hours a day.
The care of the animals is carried out by our animal care team. All animal caretakers are qualified in the field of research and clinical care; half of the team members also have a master’s degree in this field.
The high-level qualifications of our animal care team is a central component of our animal care concept and ensures the care of the animals at the highest animal welfare level.
7. How are the animals housed?
Currently, rats and mice are kept at NUVISAN ICB GmbH.
The equipment in the husbandry rooms are primarily designed for species-specific needs and take into account the necessary cleanliness of a scientific laboratory environment.
Mice and rats are social animals. Therefore, they are kept in groups wherever possible. In their cages, they have nesting, burrowing, and gnawing material, and houses. Food and water are always available. A wide range of hygienic measures, such as special protective clothing for employees, protect the animals from diseases caused by infectious agents.
8. What is NUVISAN ICB GmbH doing to reduce animal stress?
The housing and experimental conditions for the animals are continuously reviewed for possible improvements. We benefit from the high-level qualifications and continuous training of all our employees in animal husbandry and research.
Whenever necessary and possible, we provide our animals with analgesics. Surgical procedures, which are necessary for some experiments, are performed under anesthesia and analgesic coverage. Applications of test substances are carried out by experienced staff in the most animal-friendly way possible.
In addition, we actively research the improvement of our husbandry conditions and are in constant exchange with the animal welfare committee.
9. How does NUVISAN ICB GmbH prevent unnecessary suffering of animals?
For NUVISAN ICB GmbH, the responsible handling of animal experiments and the protection of laboratory animals is a central issue. We emphasize this through the high-level qualifications of our staff in animal welfare (veterinarians specialized in laboratory animal science and animal welfare) and in animal care (trained animal caretakers, some with master’s level qualifications), which go far beyond the legal requirements.
Animal caretakers, veterinarians in animal management, and especially the animal welfare officers work independently from the researchers and can therefore focus their work on the welfare of the animals.
A reporting procedure for abnormal animals and experiments has been established within the company and can be initiated by any employee. The first point of contact is the animal welfare officer. That officer’s ability to report directly to the managing director of NUVISAN ICB GmbH ensures that animal welfare issues are addressed in an effective manner.
All employees of NUVISAN ICB GmbH are regularly trained through internal advanced training on topics related to laboratory animals and ethics in animal experimentation. Awareness of animal welfare and strict legislation are focal points.
10. How is compliance with legal requirements monitored?
The responsible authority (LAGeSo) is primarily responsible for controlling the animal husbandry and the correct execution of animal experiments. Unannounced and announced inspections are carried out at regular intervals. Internally, the animal welfare officer supervises the animal experiments from planning to execution and documentation so that the legal requirements are implemented. The animal welfare officer is supported by an internal animal welfare committee, which consists of veterinarians, scientists, laboratory technicians, and animal caretakers and is chaired by the animal welfare officer.
11. Where do your laboratory animals come from?
The animals are obtained from officially registered commercial breeders, who breed the animals exclusively for later use in animal experiments.
12. What happens to the animals after the experiment?
This depends on the research question of the respective experiment. Most animals have to be killed during the experiment because the experiment requires scientific processing of organs. The animals that live on after the experiment can be used in further experiments after a veterinary examination, with the prerequisite that the animals are healthy and were not severely stressed.