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Sharing and archiving of GA mice

Scientists are generating increasing numbers of genetically altered (GA) mice as part of their research. Initiatives aimed at reduction and refinement are therefore needed. Sharing and archiving of GA mice is an increasingly important way of doing this.

Chimeric GA mice © John Nicolson

To increase the opportunities for applying reduction and refinement with respect to GA mice the RSPCA convened an expert working group whose members include the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

In 2009, the working group published recommendations on the Sharing and archiving of genetically altered mice (2009) (PDF 200KB)

Benefits of archiving:

  • enables reduction of animal use by minimising the number of GA animals maintained on the shelf 
  • facilitates the sharing of resources, which in itself provides more opportunity for reduction, and minimises the need of researchers to replicate research, or reproduce resources 
  • is a refinement, avoiding the need for the live transport of animals 
  • provides some insurance against loss of valuable animals caused by adverse events such as environmental disasters, disease outbreaks, genetic drift and breeding failure.

Progress and the future

In 2013 we conducted an anonymous survey of over 100 individuals and UK establishments that create and/or use GA animals. Over 80% of responses indicated that their establishment now cryopreserves and archives at least some of the GA mice, rats and fish that they use and care for. Over 60% believe that this has had an impact on the number of GA animals used at their establishment, but disappointingly less than 50% of respondent’s establishments actually had a policy on archiving and sharing. We are now encouraging establishments to publish policies on sharing and archiving for all the GA animal species they work with.

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