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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCAAT

Critical Evaluation of the Use of Dogs in Biomedical Research and Testing in Europe - a Workshop

Organized by:
Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing - Europe (CAAT-Europe) The Transatlantic Think Tank for Toxicology (t4) Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation (DZF)

Date and location:
20 to 23 June 2011 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Budapest, Hungary

Goals of the workshop:
This workshop aims to critically evaluate the use of dogs in biomedical research and testing. The role of dogs in pharmaceutical, chemical and regulatory safety testing and toxicological assessment shall be reviewed. The needs and possibilities to refine experiments on dogs in the respective areas shall be collated. The discussion shall assess ways and ideas to reduce the involvement of dogs and replace the canine system with physiologically and functionally relevant alternative bioassays. The outcome of the workshop shall also contribute to the welfare of dogs from a veterinary point of view.

Topics to be addressed:
1. Dogs in biomedical research: relationships and contributions
2. Dogs in chemical risk assessment: perspectives and prospects
3. Refinement approaches in research involving dogs
4. Disadvantages of dog use as opposed to alternative model systems

Workshop set-up:
The workshop will bring together a maximum of 15 experts from areas of pharmacology, toxicology, biology and alternatives to animal experiments for a three- day meeting. First and second day: Review of use of dogs in biomedical research and safety testing Third day: Critical evaluation of dog use and possibilities for reduction, refinement and replacement of dogs in research and testing

Outcome objective: An expert report to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The man-dog relationship has been established for at least 15,000 years. Thus dogs were among the first animal species to be domesticated. Today in Europe almost 10% of all households have at least one dog. Dogs are also used in biomedical research and testing. Major medical discoveries, such as that of insulin, were made with research in dogs and dogs are still used to study human and canine diseases. Dogs are also used for preclinical testing of pharmaceuticals, canine food and veterinary products. 24,000 dogs were used for research purposes in Europe in 2005. Most of these dogs are purpose-bred for research; nonetheless many people have difficulties to accept their use in these areas owing to the strong association of dogs as companions.

This workshop will bring together experts from different areas to evaluate the current use of dogs in research and testing. During the workshop we want to examine the rationale behind dog use in biomedical research and safety testing and the question of whether there are alternatives and how to apply the principles of the 3Rs, i.e. reducing the use of dogs, replacing experiments with dogs with alternative methods and reducing pain and distress in areas where their use cannot yet be replaced. Veterinarians and experts in dog behavior will be invited to discuss animal welfare issues associated with research and testing on dogs.

In basic research the use of dog models ranges from areas like retinitis pigmentosa to cardiac arrhythmia. In some areas research outcomes might be beneficial for dogs and humans, e.g. if diseases are similar in both. In other cases, dogs are chosen because the research model is well established already, because of their size or their well studied behavior and because they are easily trained to perform tasks. Principal investigators are invited to present and discuss their research, the rationale behind it and how the principles of the 3Rs might be applicable.

Representatives from industry will be invited to discuss the current requirements for housing and handling of dogs and to make recommendations on improvements.
This workshop is dedicated to the memory of Hildegard Doerenkamp (1920-2011).