The German state of Hessen hands out the “Tierschutzforschungspreis”, an award for the discovery and refinement of methods for the preservation of animals in the area of scientific research and education as well as the manufacturing of biomedical products within the 3R principles. Animals are creatures that can sense comfort, pain and suffering. Out of this grows the responsibility to avoid or at least minimize any activity that would cause the animals discomfort, suffering or serious harm. At the very least though to reduce the necessity to use and harm animals. The state of Hessen, as an important standpoint for science, wants to further encourage in the R&D field to find solutions to protect animals and bring the research to new applications. The focus on this way of thinking it the 3R principles, developed by Russel and Burch in 1959:
Replacement – methods to replace animal testing
Reduction – methods to reduce the amounts of animals in studies
Refinement – methods to reduce the discomfort and suffering of animals used in studies
The award for leading innovations and contributions in the reductions of animal use in accordance with the 3R principles, in the fields of scientific research and development, education and production of biomedical products (like Immunization, antibody’s or others), is awarded to those who find ways to significantly reduce or replace the use or suffering of animals. The award is given out every two years and includes price money in the amount of 15,000 €.
Prof. Dr. Thorsten Stiewe, Ministerin Hinz and Dr. Stefan Weigt, Winner with Dr. Haltner
The jury, among others consisting of Mrs. Dr. Haltner, the commissioner for animal rights from the state of Hessen, and representatives from universities, industry, government and animal rights groups, choose the award winners after intense deliberation and the hard decision to split the price.
The first winner is Prof. Dr. Thorsten Stiewe from the Philips-University, who worked on a study on a “method for the monitoring of transplanted tumors in mice”. He can celebrate being awarded 10,000 €. His research focuses on being able to quantities compare two different tumor populations with minimal invasive methods in the same animal, which reduce the needed animals by half.
The second winner is Dr. Stefan Weigt from the Merck in Darmstadt has been doing significant work on the “development a method for the in-vitro testing of the teratogenity of zebra fish embryos”. His study is based on the 2007 awarded “method for identifying teratogene and proteratogene substances through fish embryos” developed by Dr. Thomas Broschard and Francois Busquet. This makes it possible to further reduce the amount of animals that are needed. Highly innovative is the newly found proof of the potentially growth harming properties of the blood coagulation inhibitor Warfin in humans. It had so far not been possible to make this discovery with animal tests or in-vitro. For his research Dr. Stefan Weigt is awarded 5,000 €.
“We cannot let off, from developing new methodology to reduce animal testing, or ease the suffering and pain in studies and bring these methods to a broad application in the industry.” stated the environmental minister Mrs. Priska Hinz clearly.
As the managing Director of the Across Barriers GmbH, which is specialized in the field of in-vitro studies, through which animal testing is being reduced, Mrs. Dr. Haltner has been part of the award ceremony in the jury.
For further information on the award winners: