Sociocultural changes in the human–animal relationship have led to increasing demands for animal welfare in biomedical research. The 3R concept is the basis for bringing this demand into practice: Replace animal experiments with alternatives where possible, Reduce the number of animals used to a scientifically justified minimum and Refine the procedure to minimize animal harm. The generation of gene-modified sentient animals such as mice and rats involves many steps that include various forms of manipulation. So far, no coherent analysis of the application of the 3Rs to gene manipulation has been performed. Here we provide guidelines from the Committee on Genetics and Breeding of Laboratory Animals of the German Society for Laboratory Animal Science to implement the 3Rs in every step during the generation of genetically modified animals. We provide recommendations for applying the 3Rs as well as success/intervention parameters for each step of the process, from experiment planning to choice of technology, harm–benefit analysis, husbandry conditions, management of genetically modified lines and actual procedures. We also discuss future challenges for animal welfare in the context of developing technologies. Taken together, we expect that our comprehensive analysis and our recommendations for the appropriate implementation of the 3Rs to technologies for genetic modifications of rodents will benefit scientists from a wide range of disciplines and will help to improve the welfare of a large number of laboratory animals worldwide.
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This Review has been prepared on behalf of the Committee on Genetics and Breeding of the German Society for Laboratory Animal Science (GV-SOLAS). We especially thank our committee colleagues N. Baumgart, J. Davidson, F. Iglauer, S. Nagel-Riedasch, I. Renner-Müller and J. Schenkel for their multiple inputs, discussions and corrections. We would like to thank T. Hennek, I. Hermans-Borgmeyer, T. Kolbe, G. Michels, R. Naumann, J. Parker-Thornburg, T. Rülicke, T. Saunders, S. Sonntag and S. Tröder for their very helpful review and comments. We are grateful to A. Bergadano and P. Jirkof for supporting us with their expertise on analgesic regimens.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Zevnik, B., Jerchow, B. & Buch, T. 3R measures in facilities for the production of genetically modified rodents. Lab Anim 51, 162–177 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41684-022-00978-1
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