Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New experiment design improves reproducibility

02.06.2020

An international research team with ecologists from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena proposes measures to increase the reproducibility of biomedical experiments. It proposes to integrat one of the influencing factors – namely biological variability – into the design of the experiment in order to produce more generally valid results.

For some scientific disciplines, such as medical or drug research, experiments with live animals are still indispensable. Scientists are aware of their responsibilities in this sensitive area and strive to keep the number of experiments as low as possible.


Prof. Dr Holger Schielzeth from the University of Jena is part of the team that recommends the targeted inclusion of variations in the design of animal experiments in order to increase the area to which the results can be reliably transferred.

Photo: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU

Extensive standardisation processes are supposed to increase the efficiency of the experiments, thus reducing the number needed. However, biological complexity, and in particular a dependence on the context of the individual experiments, often make it difficult to reproduce and generalise the results.

In the current research journal “Nature Reviews Neuroscience”, an international team led by the University of Bern recommends ways of reducing the number of experiments.

Results often depend on context

“The reproducibility of results is a crucial element of science. Results are reproducible if research results obtained from an initial study can be confirmed in independent replicate studies,” explains ecologist Prof. Holger Schielzeth from the University of Jena in Germany, one the study’s co-authors.

“A fundamental problem of biological research is that the results are often very dependent on context. We therefore propose integrating one of these influencing factors – namely biological variability – into the design of the experiment in order to produce more generally valid results.”

Standardisation is limiting

Researchers currently standardise the conditions and characteristics of laboratory animals in experiments, such as for the administration of a potential drug, according to strict criteria. In doing this, they want to eliminate all influencing factors that have nothing to do with the immediate objective of the experiment and thus increase the reproducibility of the results.

This standardised approach, however, limits the range of conditions to which the results obtained can be generalised. This means that more studies are necessary to confirm the results.

“We therefore recommend the targeted inclusion of contextual variation into the design of experiments, so as to increase the range to which the results can be reliably transferred,” says Schielzeth. “This increases the potential for reproducibility and thus reduces the total number of experiments.”

A “systematic heterogenisation” of animal characteristics and environmental factors could be achieved in a modified version of the randomised block design. This involves pairing up treatments and experimental controls in small blocks, each block being tested in slightly different contexts.

Fewer follow-up studies needed

This arrangement enables researchers to find out whether specific results can be generalised or are to be attributed to influencing factors specific to the experiment. Scientists would be able to address biological variations within a study and, for example, take different sexes, age categories or housing conditions of the animals into consideration.

This would give them more reliable findings from a single experiment. Further research on this new method should lead to better guidelines for future experiments.

“We are aware that this experiment design can lead to an increase in the number of animals used for experiments during an initial study,” says Schielzeth.

“However, much fewer follow-up studies are needed to verify the result, which leads to a significant reduction in the number of animals overall.” The team therefore calls on research institutions and regulatory authorities to introduce systematic heterogenisation as a standard model for experiments.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Holger Schielzeth
Institute of Ecology and Evolution of Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Dornburger Straße 159, 07743 Jena, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)3641 / 949410
E-mail: holger.schielzeth[at]uni-jena.de

Originalpublikation:

B. Voelkl, N. S. Altman, A. Forsman, W. Forstmeier, J. Gurevitch, I. Jaric, N. A. Karp, M. J. Kas, H. Schielzeth, T. van de Casteele, H. Würbel (2020): Reproducibility of animal research in light of biological variation, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41583-020-0313-3

Sebastian Hollstein | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-jena.de/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht X-ray scattering shines light on protein folding
10.07.2020 | The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

nachricht Surprisingly many peculiar long introns found in brain genes
10.07.2020 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The spin state story: Observation of the quantum spin liquid state in novel material

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

X-ray scattering shines light on protein folding

10.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Looking at linkers helps to join the dots

10.07.2020 | Materials Sciences

Surprisingly many peculiar long introns found in brain genes

10.07.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>