Appropriately monitored and regulated animal experiments have been and still are necessary for investigating a number of serious human and animal diseases as well as developing therapies for them.
The University of Helsinki is committed to communicating openly and transparently about the animals it uses in research and teaching, as well as their welfare and care.
For example, the University of Helsinki is the first institution in Finland to introduce new methods for handling mice, which have been demonstrated to increase their welfare.
At the University of Helsinki, laboratory animals are used for
Projects involving the use of animals by researchers have benefited both humanity and the animal kingdom. This research has produced solutions that have saved millions of lives.
The topics where animals are currently being used for research include
At the University of Helsinki, laboratory animals are not used for
Overall, a total of 99 955 laboratory animals were used at the University of Helsinki in 2020.
A total of 43 699 of the animals were used in actual animal experiments. Actual animal experiments are considered to be experiments that cause harm equivalent to, or higher than, that caused by the introduction of a needle. Harm means any pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm caused to an animal.
A total of 56 256 animals were in other use, i.e. used in research where they were only bred and killed, without causing them any other harm. Such research includes the maintenance of genetically modified strains, studies where only animal tissue is used and production animal studies where no harm outside normal activities is caused.
A total of 72% of the laboratory animals used in 2020 were mice.
Cats and dogs were used in either genetic research or as study subjects in clinical trials where they were voluntarily enrolled by their owners.
The European Union wishes to increasingly transparently describe the kind of harm experienced by animals used for scientific purposes, which is why the EU employs a common classification for harm experienced by animals.
The harm experienced by animals in research is classified into four categories: non-recovery, mild, moderate or severe.
This category includes procedures that are performed entirely under general anaesthesia from which the animal does not recover consciousness. General anaesthesia means anaesthesia that is sufficiently deep to enable surgical procedures. The animals experience no harm before the administration of the anaesthetic.
Example: the development of surgical devices and innovations conducted under general anaesthesia.
Animals are likely to experience short-term mild pain, suffering or distress. This category includes procedures with no significant impairment of the wellbeing or general condition of the animals.
Examples: collection of blood samples and administration of substances.
Animals are likely to experience short-term moderate pain, suffering or distress, or long-lasting mild pain, suffering or distress. This category includes procedures that are likely to cause moderate impairment of the wellbeing or general condition of the animals.
Examples: surgery under general anaesthesia from which the animal awakens with the help of appropriate pain medication and other supportive therapy, and most cancer research.
Animals are likely to experience severe pain, suffering or distress, or long-lasting moderate pain, suffering or distress. This category includes procedures that are likely to cause severe impairment of the wellbeing or general condition of the animals.
Examples: disease models for ALS and other severe neurological diseases.
The harm experienced by animals at the University of Helsinki in 2020 is classified as follows:
The permits for and monitoring of research and teaching where laboratory animals are used at the University of Helsinki are coordinated by the Laboratory Animal Centre.
As services provided to researchers and teachers, the Laboratory Animal Centre offers
The Laboratory Animal Centre keeps up with scientific developments in the field and advises researchers and teachers in matters pertaining to laboratory animals.
All laboratory animal operations of the University of Helsinki are based on legislation concerning animal experimentation:
Additionally, the University of Helsinki is (as of March 2020) a member of the European Animal Research Association (EARA). EARA supports its members in open communication related to animals used in scientific research.