JDRF’s UK Position Statement on the use of animals in biomedical research

Reviewed and updated November 2016

JDRF is the world’s leading charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research and exists to find a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications.

JDRF’s principal focus is to support the research necessary to move scientific advances from the laboratory to the medical clinic as rapidly as possible. This is the only way to ensure our goal of finding the cure and creating a world without type 1 diabetes.

In pursuit of our mission, JDRF provides grants to leading researchers at universities, medical schools and research institutions, some of whom use non-human animal subjects. Understandably, many people are concerned about the well-being of animals used in medical research. JDRF shares those concerns and takes animal welfare very seriously. JDRF supports, in principle, well-regulated animal research where there is no alternative.

All JDRF-funded researchers conducting animal research in the UK are required to comply with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and other guidance issued by the Home Office; these are widely considered to be the best regulations for such work anywhere in the world. All animal laboratories and all people working with animals must hold a government licence and researchers must prove that they have looked at alternative methods to using animals and that their research cannot be successfully conducted without the use of animals. In addition, every project using animals must get its own licence; these are only granted to those projects that meet strict ethical criteria.

JDRF expects researchers to treat animals humanely and with respect and we are fully committed to the “3R” agenda. Every experiment that uses animals is directed by a set of principles called the 3Rs, which stands for:

  • Reduction (of the number of animals needed by using the best design for the experiments);
  • Replacement (with non-animal alternative techniques wherever feasible);
  • Refinement (to enhance animal welfare and keep any distress to a minimum).

Prior to 1921, a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes was a death sentence. Research initially using animals resulted in the discovery of insulin. This Nobel Prize-winning discovery has saved the lives of millions world-wide. Insulin, however, is not a cure; it is merely life-support. Diabetes adversely affects every physiological system in the human body. Successful treatments for some of the most devastating complications of diabetes such as kidney failure, blindness and nerve damage have advanced through the use of animals in biomedical research.

While JDRF encourages progress in developing techniques for improving non-animal testing and developing alternatives to animal research, non-animal models cannot yet fully replace animal models in pre-clinical testing. Therefore, until suitable and reliable alternative methods are developed, regulated and humane use of non-human animals in research is necessary to design and develop effective cures and treatments for people with type 1 diabetes.

Note that as a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), JDRF also supports the AMRC position statement on animal research.

Download the JDRF Position Statement on animal research as a PDF.