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Digitized Frogs Feet Patterns could halve number of frogs used for medical research

Researchers could cut by half the number of frogs used for medical research thanks to the work of leading biological scientists from University of Warwick and Portsmouth University  Universities have received a grant to help further develop computer imaging technologies for identifying individual frogs.

The award was announced on Wednesday 19th September) by the Secretary of State for Science and Innovation, Ian Pearson, at a press conference in London as part of a package of funding worth £2.4m from the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

Professor Elizabeth Jones at the University of Warwick  and Dr Matt Guille, head of the School of Biological Sciences at Portsmouth, which hosts the frogs which were studied to produce this new tool,  are working with software engineers Solcom,. They will pioneer a new method of identifying individual frogs using digital imaging which measures the patterns of the frogs’ backs and feet.

“Many thousands of frogs are kept in laboratories in the UK each year, often to produce eggs and embryos to study development. It is necessary for frogs to be kept in large groups so they feel protected and feed normally, yet they need to be individually identifiable to monitor their welfare and to determine the experiment of which they are part” said Dr Guille.

“This new method of identification is not harmful to the frog and if successful, will be marketed commercially”.  The grant is one of 11 awarded by the NC3Rs to examine alternatives to the use of animals for research in UK. Other grants were awarded to groups doing research on diseases that affect large numbers of people.

The NC3Rs provides a focus for the promotion, development and implementation of the 3Rs in animal research and testing. It brings together representative from academia, government, industry and animal welfare organisations. It is funded by the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Home Office, the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Syngenta, The Dow Chemical Company, SC Johnson and Unilever.   
 
Additional information about NC3Rs
 
The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research provides a UK focus for the promotion, development and implementation of the 3Rs in animal research and testing.For details see :http://www.nc3rs.org.uk/landing.asp?id=2
 
For further information please contact:
 
Professor Elizabeth Jones, Department of Biological Sciences
University of Warwick
Telephone: +44 (0)24 7652 3061