ALS in mice

The SOD1G93A mouse is a commonly used model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neuron disease which is rapidly progressive and fatal in humans. Current treatments only have a limited impact, so the SOD1G93A mouse is used to test potential therapies. Testing treatments that are intended to slow disease progression can require animals to experience clinical signs that can cause severe suffering.

The life experiences of SOD1G93A mice were reviewed and refined, and a new Standard Operating Procedure set out for caring for the animals, including:

  • early screening of motor function and muscle characteristics, to select which new drug candidates to take forward without mice suffering extreme motor deficits;
  • righting reflex checked twice daily from 100 days (or earlier if motor problems are apparent);
  •  non-particulate litter and nesting material, as animals may have difficulty grooming;
  • long sipper tubes and mash provided in a dish on the cage floor, to cater for disabled animals;
  • any dehydration treated with an i.p. injection of sterile saline, followed by close monitoring;
  • husbandry refinements, including carrying nesting material (not litter) over from soiled to clean cage to reduce aggression, changing gloves and cleaning work surfaces between handling male and female mice. Fun tunnels are provided but removed at 100 days to prevent disabled mice from becoming trapped.

All investigators and animal technologists have a copy of the standard operating procedure (SOP), which has helped to avoid and reduce severe suffering.

Source: Hawkins et al. (2012) (PDF 260KB) Animal Technology and Welfare 12: 49-58