FEB 03, 2016 06:00 AM PST

From the 3Rs to Systematic Reviews

  • Professor, Laboratory Animal Science, Managing Director, Central Animal Laboratory (CDL), Radboud University Medical Center
      Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga is Professor in Laboratory Animal Science and head of the central animal laboratory CDL at Radboudumc (university medical center) in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. She is dedicated to education and research aimed at achieving better science ánd better laboratory animal welfare simultaneously. She was FELASA president, FELASA vice-president of the working groups and chair of Laboratory Animals Limited. She is now secretary elect of ECLAM. She has founded SYRCLE, Systematic Review Center on Laboratory animal Experimentation (www.SYRCLE.nl), focussing on systematic reviews of animal studies. Systematic reviews aid in (1) making evidence-based choices for an animal model, (2) making publication quality transparent (3) implementing the 3Rs, and, last but not least, (4) making an evidence-based overview of the results of relevant animal studies when preparing for clinical trials. SYRCLE is dedicated to the development of teaching and training, of methodological tools and the execution of systematic reviews of animal studies. SYRCLE has established international collaboration with the following international networks: CAMARADES, Cochrane Collaboration, GRADE, Evidence Synthesis International, Evidence-based Toxicology and Evidence-based research network.


    Why did we change focus from the 3Rs to Systematic Reviews? Questionnaires on the 3Rs have revealed that the 3R search gets no high priority and the 3R search process is never included in funding proposals (Leenaars et al. ATLA 2009, Van Luijk et al. ATLA 2011). As there are more than 100 databases and websites dealing with the 3Rs, each having a different content and buildup and method of search (Leenaars et al. ATLA 2009), making the 3R search complicated and ineffective, we have shifted focus to Systematic Reviews (SR). This is a succesful and well-developed and accepted method  originating from evidence-based medicine (Cochrane Collaboration). SR can contribute to better quality science, better patient safety ánd the implementation of the 3Rs (Hooijmans & Ritskes-Hoitinga 2013; Ritskes-Hoitinga et al. 2014). Therefore we have founded SYRCLE, Systematic Review Center for Laboratory animal Experimentation. SYRCLE develops tools and guidelines to make this method  just as easily accessible and applicable in laboratory animal science as in the medical field (Hooijmans et al. 2010, 2011; De Vries et al. 2011; 2014 Leenaars et al. 2011.) SYRCLE develops and offers teaching, e-learning, workshops and coaching (see www.SYRCLE.nl). In my presentation I will discuss the methodology and value of SR of animal studies and present various practical examples on the evidence-based choice of animal models and on the translational value.

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