The Babraham Institute is part of the Babraham Research Campus, with a research remit to underpin the overall healthcare responsibility of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The research carried out by the Babraham Institute aims to advance knowledge in important biological systems, and in their ageing-related changes, leading to health and economic benefit. It seeks to identify novel targets for the development of therapies and diagnostics applicable to autoimmune diseases, cancers, diseases of neurological decline such as Alzheimer’s, to reproductive disorders and many others. Findings are published in scientific journals and the Institute continues to maintain and develop its programme of activities to provide public access to research and other advances in the biosciences.
The Babraham Research Campus is also home to other academic and commercial organisations working in the biomedical and biotechnology sectors. Additionally, some work is undertaken with external collaborators. All animal research on the Campus is required to comply with the Babraham Institute policy on animal usage, as outlined below.
The research conducted on the Babraham Research Campus falls into three broad categories:
- Research that does not require living tissue, involving computer modelling or molecular analysis such as the study of DNA
- Research that uses the culture of tissues or cells, often cell lines.
- Where there are no other alternatives, research involving living animals (predominantly rodents) when it is necessary to study or utilise biological responses that cannot be reproduced in tissue culture.
Work that falls under category 3 is carried out under a single Establishment Licence, issued by the UK Government Home Office under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). Compliance with the requirements of UK and EU legislation is maintained through visits and inspections by highly qualified Home Office inspectors.
All applications from the Babraham Research Campus for Home Office Project Licences to use living animals under ASPA are subjected to ethical review and must be approved in advance by an Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body. This committee compares potential benefits to human or animal health and welfare arising from the research with possible harms that may result to the animals used. Membership includes Babraham Institute and non-Babraham Institute scientists, veterinary surgeons, animal care staff, lay members and observers.
A commitment to reduce, refine and replace animal experiments, where possible, underpins the work of AWERB. The Home Office Inspector has an open invitation to attend the meetings, and receives applications that have been given local approval. AWERB also oversees the training of staff permitted to perform procedures on living animals.
AWERB decisions on the manner in which procedures may be conducted apply to this Establishment Licence but should also inform studies undertaken at other academic establishments as part of a collaboration. Limitations on Project Licence applications imposed during AWERB scrutiny should not be circumvented by exporting such procedures to another jurisdiction, so called ‘ethics dumping’. The AWERB may at its discretion seek reassurances from collaborating laboratories in regards to animal welfare and humane endpoint.
Facilities on the Babraham Research Campus are not used to perform animal research involving statutory testing of substances for their safety. Investigations of the efficacy or quality of substances may form part of specific, approved programmes of research and development work.
The main species used in the live animal research are laboratory strains of rodents. No cats, dogs, horses or primate species are housed on the Babraham Research Campus for research purposes.