Ferrets (Mustela putorius) and cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) are the primary animals used in vaccine development for infectious respiratory diseases such as influenza, RSV and hMPV. The availability of these and other suitable animal models is an essential component in the development and final lot release of many other human and veterinary infectious disease vaccines. When performing vaccine efficacy and safety assessment studies based on these models, a number of critical factors need to be considered:
- The use and availability of specific pathogen-free (SPF) animals.
- The availability of suitable challenge material that is robust, stable and of clinical relevance.
- The biosecurity and housing environment of animals both prior to and during studies.
- The commitment of the institution performing the study to compliance and continuous improvement in animal welfare, the 3 Rs and humane care.
- The skills and accuracy of the animal scientists conducting the study in administering vaccines and challenge materials and in performing the ongoing clinical assessments and study measurements.
- The knowledge and implementation of quality standards (e.g., GMP, GLP), including record keeping, data integrity and training, in place at the institution performing the study.
The ferret and cotton rat animal models are unique and come with their own challenges in terms of housing, handling and dosing in addition to the above considerations. These animals must be kept in a calm and stress-free state to ensure optimum study conditions and reduced study variability. Charles River has the expertise to care for these animal models. We have invested significant resources in the development of appropriate facilities and in the training and availability of specialized technical staff to support respiratory disease vaccine research and development. Our staff are always available to discuss and develop new study designs and to work with clients to implement effective development programs. To schedule time with our staff, contact us.