Norecopa participates in COST Action CA21139 entitled 3Rs concepts to improve the quality of biomedical science (IMPROVE).

The main aim of the Action is to establish a network which will work to refine, harmonise and promote 3Rs concepts, data and documents, in order to improve the quality of biomedical science. The Action has its own website:

The Action had its first Management Committee meeting in Brussels on 20 October 2022. The Action runs for 4 years from that date. The Committee had its second meeting online on 18 April 2023.

The 3Rs are described in more detail here.

Plans for the Action (from the Memorandum of Understanding):

Research coordination

  • Coordinate meta-research on the impact of potential Refinement measures on quality of results gathered by animal experiments, including influence of concepts such as experimental study design of animal studies (Refinement, Reduction).
  • Define standards for Replacement methods including more complex in vitro as well as in silico models for biomedical/basic research. Use the interdisciplinary character of the network to assess quality criteria based on e.g. human relevance or in vitro artefacts to prioritize the best method or technology.
  • Communicate best practices within the network, contribute to guidances as such (e.g. OECD GIVIMP, ToxTemp, GCCP, PREPARE, etc.) and suggest new guidance such as PREPARE documents (existing for animal studies) for specifically in silico or in vitro methods.
  • To stimulate collaboration between stakeholders in the chain of development of 3Rs or non-animal methods and technologies. Collaboration between end-users and developers (e.g. industry, regulators, biotech companies, policy makers) increases the chance that developments meet performance criteria, are fit-for-purpose and will actually be used, accepted and implemented.
  • To study and understand behaviour of stakeholders and identify the drivers that cause them to use either (traditional) animal studies/methods or to choose for non-animal methods or combinations of them. Arguments may be diverse, e.g. ethical, common practice, scientific…
  • To drive innovation and improve science through development and implementation of globally accessible and easy-to-use dissemination channels. Working towards animal-free solutions is an international effort crossing not only geographical borders but also borders between disciplines. Good dissemination channels within the network can help to achieve that.
  • To facilitate the transition towards animal-free research strategies, creativity and ingenuity should be bundled. For this, a video-platform is considered a useful tool. With the use of the right platform the “better science” message will be easier to convey.
  • Connect educational 3Rs related activities within Europe and share experience, methodology and best practices.
  • Increasing cross-disciplinary science is expected to lead to more effective research strategies, and hence, fewer animal testing. Stimulation of cross-disciplinary science starts with implementation of a crossdisciplinary learning environment. The network could organize a working group on interdisciplinary research for the purpose of fewer animal testing.
  • Raising awareness for descriptive and normative dimensions of animal research in general and the 3Rs Principles in particular as important cornerstones in education.

    Capacity Building
  • Develop an interdisciplinary collaborative network comprising excellence in 3Rs science and methodology across Europe to support joint research and efforts with a focus on the five identified topics to collect, exchange and enhance knowledge and expertise.
  • Develop and establish a European-wide communication platform for this network based on a website for internal (forum groups, topic related) and external (Hub for guidance and orientation in the 3Rs field, integration/explanation/videos/links to data bases to each topic) communication.
  • Bring topic specific stakeholder groups from different areas in a targeted manner together and enable knowledge exchange and transfer to foster the implementation of 3Rs concepts and methods.
  • Reach out and expand the network especially to stakeholders in basic science of the areas Neuroscience, CVD and Oncology, since these areas are the sectors using most animals where the awareness of 3Rs concepts has to be strengthened most.
  • Attract next generation of Early Career Investigators (ECIs) for the 3Rs field, support them to learn about the manifold subjects, topics and possibilities in the field to contribute to the improvement of biomedical science in general and foster their education via workshops, training schools, conferences, etc.
  • Proactively involve target groups in this COST Action such as participants from Inclusiveness Target Countries (ITCs), women, ECIs and teams from countries or regions with less capacity in the 3Rs field.
  • Disseminate knowledge, experience and results from this network by publications (reports, guidelines, scientific papers), workshops, seminars, public awareness days, the above mentioned website as communication platform, social media and the conference planned as final event of this COST Action.

Keywords for the Action:
reproducibility crisis - predictability crisis - frameworks for research quality improvement - ethical, social, political aspects for quality improvement - Directive 63/2010/EU

The Action contains four Working Groups:

  1. Quality and Translatability of Science
  2. Implementation
  3. Dissemination
  4. Education

Summary of the Action:

Awareness of the existence of a reproducibility and predictability crisis in biomedical science has increased in recent years. The reproducibility crisis refers to the problem that researchers struggle to replicate or reproduce scientific studies. There has been many publications reviewing why preclinical research is irreproducible and lack of predictability, pointing this to deficiencies in reporting and statistical practices. Confounding factors, which are part of the laboratory environment and will influence both the dependent and independent variables, continue to be identified, suggesting that our knowledge of their existence is far from complete. Better statistical methodology will play a central role in improving the reproducibility of science to produce robust and reproducible research. Another area of improvement is the development of novel methods to better define and assess replication success and improve predictability. Under this light, the development and introduction of new, powerful concepts for biomedical research is essential to reduce the production of non-reproducible and non-predictive data. This has immense scientific, economic and social significance. In this context, we propose that the findings and concepts from the 3Rs field can greatly help to improve biomedical research on several levels.

The Action has a Twitter account and is on LinkedIn.


This page was updated on 14 June 2024

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