Friday, 16 March 2012

‘Genetically Altered Animals & the 3Rs’ Meeting

Often a controversial subject, the use and management of laboratory animals is nonetheless something which is essential to engage with, in order to promote constructive dialogue around this topic.

Recognising this, The RSPCA has brought its 3rd meeting on the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction principles applied to Genetically Altered Animals, north of the Border for the first time. This meeting, jointly hosted by the RSPCA, the Laboratory Science Association and the Institute of Animal Technicians, brings together interested parties to engage with and discuss, welfare issues relating to the production and management of genetically altered animals in a laboratory setting.

Delegates attended from research institutions in both England and Scotland, and topics discussed included the production and justification for production of such animals and how this could be minimised utilising techniques such as cryopreservation, The biosecurity, health, breeding and husbandry of genetically altered rodents, and assessment of end of life criteria. The need for more consistent terminology when describing physical problems, and the acknowledgement of behavioural issues that may be associated with 'knock-out' mice and which may need separate consideration in terms of quality of life. The speakers also discussed refinements such as non-surgical embryo-transfer techniques that negate the need for anaesthesia or surgery, and the importance of high standards of asepsis, anaesthesia and analgesia during surgical procedures.

Whilst the use of animals in laboratory research is often difficult and emotive, it was gratifying to see the partnering of NGO and industry experts to deliver consistent messages regarding our responsibilities to animal welfare.

For more information on the use of animals in laboratory research, see the RSPCA website:

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