Spec. Issue 2006 - Article Summary

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Alternatives to animal experimentation in undergraduate curricula at medical schools – analysis of current trends in the Czech Republic

1Miroslav Cervinka, 1Emil Rudolf and 2Zuzana Cervinkova
1Charles University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Biology and Genetics, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic;
2Charles University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Physiology, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic

Summary
Undergraduate medical students should be both theoretically and practically informed about the existence of alternatives to the use of animals in research and in education. Therefore we have prepared a course based on the 3Rs concept. In this course students learned and practically mastered the following topics:
  • The 3Rs concept – scientific background, ethical and legislative considerations
  • Mammalian cells cultivated in vitro as an alternative to experiments on animals
  • Non-invasive student self-experimentation as an alternative
  • Screen-based alternatives (interactive computer programmes) as an alternative
  • Proper use of laboratory animals
We prepared a written anonymous questionnaire to evaluate students’ opinions on the course and their attitudes towards the alternatives. The results of the survey showed that our students were generally satisfied with our course and it seems that both experiments with cells in vitro and human experimentation could be suitable alternatives in medical education. Due to the fact that we organised similar surveys several times during the last 15 years, it was possible to analyse changes in the students’ attitudes during that period. The results showed one obvious general tendency: current less strict opposition of students towards animal experimentation, with a substantial part of our respondents even requiring animal experimentation. Reasons behind these changes are discussed.

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