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BgVV places database on alternatives to animal experiments on the Internet

03/2000, 16.02.2000

In conjunction with the German Institute for Medical Information and Documentation (DIMDI), the Centre for Documentation and Evaluation of Alternatives to Animal Experiments (ZEBET) has made available an English-language database which contains information on alternative methods to animal experiments. Unlike all other databases available so far, the special feature of this database, besides the description of the method, keywords, a summary and bibliographical data, is that a scientific assessment of the method by BgVV can also be accessed. In the database 35 methods are described which can be used, for instance, as substitutes for animal experiments in the development of medicinal products. A further 75 methods are currently being revised by BgVV for access through DIMDI and integrated in an ongoing manner into the database. Once this work is completed, 110 alternative methods will be accessible. ZEBET is responsible for updating the existing documents and preparing new documents for the database.

The database can be accessed on the Internet on or through a link on the BgVV homepage Scientists from industry, universities and public authorities as well as interested visitors to the database can thus access all the DIMDI user services. Details of the search functions are given in the so-called "memo card on the ZEBET database" by DIMDI. Access to the database is free of charge, no registration is necessary.

The German Animal Welfare Act and the overriding EU Directive 86/609/EEC concerning the protection of experimental animals stipulate that when preparing experiments thought should be given to whether the intended purpose could not be achieved with methods or processes which do not involve experiments (§ 7, para 2, sentence 2 Animal Welfare Act). The ZEBET database has the task of making available alternative methods for testing the essentiality of animal experiments. Based on the scientific assessment of the methods by ZEBET staff, only those methods are documented in the database which fulfil one of the three following requirements:

  • the method can be used to replace animal experiments - Replacement
  • the number of experimental animals is reduced - Reduction
  • the pain and suffering of the experimental animals are minimised - Refinement.

These criteria correspond to the internationally recognised definition of the "3 Rs" for alternative methods to animal experiments by Russel and Burch (1959).

The Centre for Documentation and Evaluation of Alternatives to Animal Experiments (ZEBET) established in 1989 within BgVV has the official task of documenting alternatives to animal experiments, assessing opportunities for their use in practice and, if necessary, enforcing their recognition. The goal of ZEBET's work in BgVV is to contribute above all to replacing as far as possible the officially prescribed animal experiments. In order to reach this goal, ZEBET conducts its own research and commissions research projects from other institutions in order to develop new methods which reduce or replace animal experiments.


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