Publications: Papers

September 2020

Endotoxin testing is a vital part of quality and safety control in pharmaceutical production. The primary method for this testing in North America and Europe is the limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) test, a critical component of which is the blood of Atlantic horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus). Procuring blood for LAL testing involves capturing and bleeding over 500,000 crabs from wild marine populations each year. Whilst efforts are made by manufacturers to return crabs to the sea following the collection of blood, there is a level of mortality and sub-lethal impact involved, prompting increasing discussions about welfare and ethics. The 3Rs – the ambition to where possible, replace, reduce, and refine the use of animals – are established and accepted worldwide as the best framework for governing animal-dependent science. However, the biomedical utilization of horseshoe crabs to produce the LAL test has rarely been viewed through a 3Rs framework. More recently, there has been a renewed attention on sustainable methods and alternatives to the LAL test. Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews, this article examines stakeholder perspectives on opportunities for thinking with the 3Rs, considering current appetites to replace, refine, and reduce contemporary biomedical reliance on horseshoe crabs. The shape of conversations about the biomedical utilization of horseshoe crabs has shifted significantly in recent years, and the 3Rs are an important driver of change, offering the potential to advance the use of more sustainable methods, and realize the welfare considerations increasingly expected across science and society.

June 2020

Despite its increasing attention from animal welfare organisations, there is currently a lack of research which explores the numbers and species rehomed after being used in animal research. This paper, using a semi-structured questionnaire, explores rehoming practice across UK animal research facilities in order to provide an overall picture of current rehoming practice.

February 2020

Animal research is contingent on a complex network of relations and assurances across science and society, which are both formally constituted through law and informal or assumed. In this paper, we propose these entanglements can be studied through an approach that understands animal research as a nexus spanning the domains of science, health and animal welfare.

January 2020

In this paper, in Tecnoscienza, we investigate translation in biomedicine by exploring how researchers supported by the British Pharmacological Society’s Integrative Pharmacology Fund (IPF) have responded to increasing translational aspirations within pre-clinical animal research.

January 2020

Genetically modified or ‘transgenic’ mice are a routine experimental tool in biomedical research, commonly produced by injecting DNA into one-cell embryos. These animals were independently invented in 1980 by multiple university groups in the United States and Europe that combined expertise in mouse developmental biology and recombinant DNA techniques, or ‘genetic engineering’. In this article, I examine this multiple invention and argue that research strategies, experimental practices, and funding arrangements that led to transgenic mice are best described as tinkering. These creative and speculative endeavors, combined with partial knowledge of what was happening in competing laboratories, created a fruitful atmosphere for research which led to the multiple invention. The tinkering was, however, underpinned by infrastructures that were crucial to success, some long established, such as mouse supply or embryological tools, and some emerging, such as the informal exchange of isolated genes.

December 2019

This paper examines some underlying social factors and drivers that influence thinking, priorities and implementation of fish welfare initiatives and the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) for fish.  Drawing on original qualitative interviews with stakeholders, animal technologists and scientists who work with fish—especially zebrafish—to illustrate the case, it explores some key social factors influencing the take up of the 3Rs in this context.

October 2019

While sociologists of medicine have focused their efforts on understanding human health, illness, and medicine, veterinary medical practice has not yet caught their attention in any sustained way. In this critical review article, we use insights from the sociology of diagnosis literature to explore veterinary practice, and aim to demonstrate the importance of animals to sociological understandings of health, illness and disease. We hope that this work encourages more focus on the veterinary profession, and a better understanding of the role of the vet inside and outside the laboratory.