Could In-House Breeding Be Compromising Your Research?
Over the years, as space has been added to animal facilities, colonies of standard (or wild-type) research models are sometimes bred for convenience, perceived cost benefits or other reasons.
Choosing Models for Study
Investigators often make decisions on which animal model to use based on age, sex, and the suitability of a strain for their specific area of research. But are they also considering exactly how the research models they request are bred and maintained?
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Animal Models Are Not a Constant
Unlike nearly every other "constant" dependent variable in an in vivo experiment, research animals like mice evolve over time, affected by environmental and genetic factors which alter their phenotype. In turn, this can impact the reproducibility of experimental results.
Considering Health Status
There will always be certain situations where standard (wildtype) animals need to bred on site at a facility, for example when a facility has very strict guidelines on the health status of animals. In order to keep to strict guidelines, be them SPF, SOPF or other, a robust health monitoring program will need to be adhered to in order to adhere to SPF, SOPF, or other standards.
No matter how you obtain your research animals, consider these critical factors:
- Biosecurity – How is it maintained, and what are the biggest risks?
- Genetic Integrity – Are there appropriate SOPs in place to minimize genetic drift and avoid breeding errors that could lead to genetic contamination?
- Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement – With a focus on the 3Rs, how many animals are needed for your study? What happens with the excess animals?
- Cost – Is breeding in-house really saving money and optimizing research resources?