The use of animals for research in the UK is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA), which is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act defines regulated procedures as procedures that could potentially cause a protected animal pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm, equivalent to, or higher than, that caused by inserting a hypodermic needle according to veterinary practice. Protected animals are defined as all living vertebrates, other than humans, and any living cephalopod. Fish and amphibia are protected once they can feed independently and cephalopods at the point when they hatch. Embryonic and foetal forms of mammals, birds and reptiles are protected during the last third of their gestation or incubation period.
ASPA RegulationASPA Regulation
ASPA involves three levels of regulation: person, project, and place.
A researcher wishing to carry out regulated procedures on a protected animal must undergo a defined sequence of training, and then apply for a procedure personal licence (PIL), that permits them to carry out specified techniques on named species of animals.
A project licence (PPL) details the scope of work to be carried out, the likely benefits that may be realised by the work, the numbers and types of animals to be used, and the harm that might be caused to the animal. The PPL precisely defines which techniques may be applied to which animals, and for what purpose. It is granted to a suitably qualified senior researcher.
An establishment must apply for a certificate of designation (PCD) in order for regulated procedures to be carried out at that site. Newcastle University has been granted a PCD, which details which places at the University are permitted to be used for certain techniques and species.
It is an offence under ASPA to carry out regulated procedures on a protected animal unless authorised by a personal licence, a project licence AND a certificate of designation.
The 3RsThe 3Rs
Newcastle University is committed to the principles of the 3Rs. These were developed over 50 years ago, and have since been embedded in national and international legislation and regulations on the use of animals in research. The 3Rs are:
Using methods which avoid or replace the use of animals.
Using methods which minimise the number of animals used in experiments.
Using methods which minimise suffering and improve animal welfare.
For more information about the 3Rs, please see The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).
During the ethical review process, animal research projects are reviewed to ensure that they meet the principles of the 3Rs.
Additional PrinciplesAdditional Principles
In addition to the 3Rs, all animal research at Newcastle University must adhere to the following principles:
Beneficence & Non-maleficence
The benefits should outweigh the risks, and harm should be avoided. During the ethical review process, the potential benefit of an animal research project is assessed against the potential risks and/or harm to the animals, caused by undertaking the research.
Research should be high in quality, transparent and meet recognised standards. UK standards of animal care are amongst the highest in the world, and Newcastle University adheres to these standards. Where a Newcastle University research project is conducted outside the UK, the research must still meet the UK animal welfare standards.
Ethics ReviewEthics Review
Ethics applications for research projects involving protected animals (as defined by ASPA) are reviewed by the Animal Welfare Ethical Review Board (AWERB).
If the animal research is:
- Conducted in a location under UK jurisdiction, and
- Involves regulated procedures (as defined by ASPA)
it must be authorised by a personal licence, a project licence and a certificate of designation.
If you do not have a personal licence, you will need to undertake the mandatory Home Office Licence training. To do so, please contact the Comparative Biology Centre for further information.
Whether you will need to apply for a project licence and certificate of designation will depend on the permissions granted via existing licences at Newcastle University. In order to find out, applicants should contact the Comparative Biology Centre before submitting their ethics application.
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