The use of animals in scientific research in Europe is governed by the DIRECTIVE 2010/63/EU of 22 September 2010. This framework is built on the 3R principle with the aim to reduce, refine and replace animal experiments to the indispensable minimum and to conduct them humanely . Careful experimental planning and statistical evaluation can reduce the number of animals necessary for an experiment. Refinement can, for example, include appropriate analgesia and anaesthesia, the improvement of assay procedures and non‐invasive methods. The third and most rigorous strategic line of the 3R principle is the replacement of animals altogether by in vitro methods including cell, organ and embryo culture or by in silico simulation.
Since its adoption in 2010, DIRECTIVE 2010/63/EU has been implemented by national legal guidelines such as the Animal Protection Act (TierSchG—Tierschutzgesetz) in Germany. The administrative burden for scientists has increased along with the new guidelines, prompting researchers to avoid this additional workload by employing of alternative research models. Big hopes rest on artificial stem cell‐derived in vitro organ systems. However, significant technological advances are still required to faithfully reproduce organ function in vitro. In addition, many studies involving interactions at a system level or complex behavioural outcomes require the intact animal model.
The zebrafish embryo is increasingly used as an alternative model system. Many aspects of biology, including disease …
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