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Arch Hellen Med, 26(6), November-December 2009, 778-786


Choosing an appropriate endpoint in experiments using animals

Unit of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Clinic of Companion Animal, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

Animal use in experiments is a sensitive aspect of biomedical research which frequently creates ethical dilemmas. National and European legislation have established rigorous rules applicable to all research where animals are involved. During experimentation pain or suffering may develop, or euthanasia may be required. It is essential for a point to be established beyond which no suffering or pain is justified, at which point either the experiment must be discontinued or euthanasia must be performed. The determination and assessment of the specific endpoint is a difficult task and it is based upon scientific and ethical rules. The close surveillance of the animals and the recognition and analysis of any shift from their normal behavior is of major importance. A pilot study can be very useful because it may reveal complications and undesirable effects, and predict outcome. The definition of legal and scientific responsibilities is a substantial part of every experiment and is essential for a successful outcome. The adequate training of the staff responsible for the care of the animals is of extreme importance. Animal use for scientific purposes is justified only by the anticipated benefit to humans or animals, and the absence of alternative methods. The animals used in experiments must experience the least possible suffering and pain, and there must be always an attempt to minimize their numbers. The definition of endpoints constitutes a substantial contribution to humane practice in experiments using animals.

Key words: Endpoint, Experimental animals.

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