Animals or Animal Cells and Tissues

This policy details the processes in place for all staff or students working with animals or animal cells or tissues. This policy seeks to balance academic freedom, and the facilitation of appropriate research, with the need to have proportionate processes and safeguards in place.

The purpose of this policy is to clarify the scope of the ethics review process for Animals or Animal Cells and Tissues.

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) regulates the use of protected animals in any experimental or other scientific procedure which may cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm to the animal. Protected animals under the Act are any living vertebrate (e.g. mammal, fish, bird, reptile etc) other than human and any living cephalopod (e.g. squid, octopus etc).  A procedure is regulated if it is carried out on a protected animal for a scientific or educational purpose and may cause that animal a level of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm equivalent to, or higher than, that caused by inserting a hypodermic needle according to good veterinary practice. It is an offence under ASPA to carry out regulated procedures on a protected animal unless authorised by a personal licence, a project licence, AND an establishment licence granted by the Home Office.  Loughborough University is NOT a licenced establishment under the legislation.

This policy applies to the use of animals in scientific enquiry including activities that would not be regulated under ASPA.  Investigators conducting activities involving animals or animal cells or tissues or involved in studies where animal research is conducted by partners, should complete the Ethics Review Form in the University’s online ethics system, LEON.   Proposals will be reviewed by the Ethics Review Sub-Committee. 

In this context, “animal” is used in the broadest context of the Animal Kingdom but excludes humans.

The scope of research involving animals or animal cells and tissues

It is impossible to provide an exhaustive list of research activities that may be covered by this policy.  However, the following is an indicative list of studies that would require an ethics submission:

  • Activities involving vertebrates and cephalopods that are not covered by ASPA e.g. designing new toys or products for animals, studying the use of animals in therapy.
  • Any activities involving animals that are not vertebrates or cephalopods e.g. invertebrates.
  • Tracking or observation of animals.
  • Activities that involve the use of animal cells or tissues sourced from a licenced institution or commercially.
  • Involvement in studies where partner institutions which are licensed establishments in the UK are conducting ASPA regulated activities.
  • Activities that involve the use of living vertebrates and cephalopods in scientific procedures that would fall under the definitions of ASPA if conducted in the UK which are being conducted outside the UK by partner institutions. Confirmation of ethics clearance from the partner institution is required.

Ethics Process

Ethics submissions will be reviewed by the Ethics Review Sub-Committee secretary in the first instance.  Submissions involving ASPA regulated activities at partner institutions will be considered at Ethics Review Sub-Committee meetings or by Chairs Action.

Other Considerations

Researchers should also note:

  • Researchers are responsible for determining whether other licences or permissions are required e.g. Licence from Natural England.
  • All activities must comply with the University’s Biological Safety Policy.

Additional Information