The advancement in research is required to improve health and reduce suffering. It relies on the acquisition of new knowledge of functional anomalies produced from the disease and their control by medications. Different experimental approaches, in vitro, in vivo, or even ex vivo are used to obtain this information. Laboratory projects based on in vitro models permit the exploration of new paths of research on cellular types of interest. Studies performed directly on "the living" are essential to understand the complex interactions that exist between the organs and the cells. Animal models are also essential for the discovery of new medications, and to assess their efficacy and innocuousness.
Research protocols that involve animals undergo strict evaluations by animal care committees of the institutions, and by the granting agencies or other funding sources to assure high scientific significance of the project and the ethical use of the animals. The participating research groups to the ERTB respect the rules of the three R’s (reduction, refinement, replacement) in planning their projects.
- The "reduction" aspect ensures that the minimum number of animals be used within appropriate limits to obtain exploitable statistical results.
- The "refinement" regroups two important points. The first consists of using an animal research model that accurately represents the disease being studied. The second is to assure that the stress, discomfort, and pain associated with the research, if at all, are reduced to the minimum.
- The "replacement" pertains to the verification that the proposed project cannot be carried out by in vitro studies instead of in vivo.
The participating centers of the ERTB study diseases that develop naturally within the species, and that are of major importance for the health of horses and their owners, and the equine industry. As they also share similarities with asthma, the ERTB facilitates successful collaboration to foster scientific advancements for man and for the horse. The different participating centers follow the strict ethical regulations of their institution and country. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Montreal, the hosting center of the ERTB, conforms to the rules of CCAC (Canadian Council on Animal Care) and to the CÉUA (Ethics Committee on Animal Use).