Humane endpoints

When planning an animal experiment, you as a researcher must specify the humane endpoints (HEP). These are the criteria you use to determine when to intervene in a trial for humane reasons. These criteria must be formulated as concretely as possible. The aim of a humane endpoint is to prevent or end discomfort (refinement).

Determining the humane endpoints is part of the design of your research. You describe them in the project proposal, and later in more detail in the work protocol.

You can intervene in the trial based on the humane endpoints in various ways, depending on the situation:

  • Remove a test animal from the test and kill it humanely (if necessary)
  • Eliminate, relieve or prevent pain or stress in the animal in another way.

The application of humane endpoints is in the interest of the animal, because it prevents unnecessary and/or serious discomfort. At the same time, it is in the interest of the research (and therefore of the researcher), because an animal in a bad condition gives unreliable results.

There are broadly three reasons for applying humane endpoints:

  1. The scientific endpoint of the trial has been reached. Sufficient data have been collected.
  2. The animal has reached a criterium for exclusion, or cannot reach inclusion anymore.
  3. The animal is suffering unnecessary or worse than the maximum described.

Contact the Animal Welfare Body Utrecht immediately if the previously calculated group sizes can no longer be achieved. Otherwise, this is an endpoint for all animals in the experiment.

On the website Humane endpoints in animal experimental research you will find information about normal behavior, normal physiology, types of humane endpoints, applications in research, legislation and regulations and various publications about humane endpoints.