Report of GA mice working group
This report sets out the working group's recommendations for a standard welfare assessment scheme for genetically altered (GA) mice and the establishment of a 'passport' system for GA mice transferred between establishments nationally and internationally.
A summary of the full report was published in the journal Laboratory Animals (http://rsm.publisher.ingentaconnect.com/content/rsm/lab) Laboratory Animals 40, 111-114).
Full report, PDF 319KB
The welfare assessment scheme is intended to provide a framework which can be tailored to suit local requirements. The information derived from the assessment is intended to form the basis of a 'welfare profile' and 'passport'. Implementation of these recommendations clearly requires buy-in from all involved in the use and care of GA mice and it is intended that the ethical review process will play a key role in promulgating the recommendations.
Recommendation 1: From a scientific, ethical and legal perspective establishments should have a mechanism in place to identify any GA mice that show adverse effects.
Recommendation 2: Structured welfare assessments should be carried out for (i) newly bred and maintained lines of GA mice, (ii) GA lines that are newly introduced into the establishment.
Recommendation 3: Welfare assessment of new lines of GA mice should be carried out in the neonate (where appropriate), at weaning and subsequently for the period that adults are normally maintained for that particular line. For adult mice the most appropriate time to carry out the assessment is at cage cleaning. Welfare assessment should complement the daily observations.
Recommendation 4: The welfare assessment should include a range of non-invasive indicators. In the neonate - skin colour, activity and presence of the milk spot; and, at weaning and in the adult - appearance, size, coat condition, posture, gait, activity levels, interaction with the environment and clinical signs. The welfare assessments should be carried out using a check sheet as a prompt or 'aide memoire'.
Recommendation 5: At each assessment a record should be maintained of (i) the number of mice observed and (ii) any mice identified as having compromised welfare. For any GA mice that are identified as having a welfare concern, the particular indicators that lead to this concern should be recorded. Examples of forms that could be used for these purposes are provided in Annex 3 (form for recording welfare concerns) and Annex 4 (form for recording observations made) and also below. These examples are for guidance and are not intended to replace similar documents or systems already in place.
Recommendation 6: Information obtained as part of the assessment should be used to create a welfare profile, specific to the particular GA line that can be used to identify mice with welfare concerns (this will be a sub-set of the indicators in the aide memoire (see Annex 3) plus any additional indicators). The welfare profile should be available in the same room as the mice. All records should be maintained centrally within the facility.
Recommendation 7: All staff required to carry out welfare assessments should receive appropriate training and this should be regularly reviewed.
Recommendation 8: Every establishment should have in place a system with defined responsibilities to ensure that the relevant people are informed of any welfare issue and are able to take appropriate actions to protect the welfare of the animals concerned. Reporting mechanisms should be regularly reviewed to ensure that everyone is aware of the system, how it works and what their roles and responsibilities are.
Recommendation 9: Information pertaining to husbandry, welfare issues, breeding recommendations and expected phenotype should be disseminated when GA mice are transferred between establishments. This should take the form of a 'mouse passport' and should be a physical record that passes directly to the animal care staff in the receiving establishment. A passport template is given in Annex 5 and included below.
Recommendation 10: The recommendations laid out in this report are intended to be minimally resource intensive, however there are likely to be some resource implications for the establishment. It is recommended that establishments consider
Assessing the welfare of genetically altered mice (PDF, 338KB)
GA mouse - aide memoire (PDF, 48KB)
GA mouse - aide memoire (DOC, 44KB)
General record of mice observed (DOC, 42KB)
General record of mice observed (PDF, 35KB)
Mouse Passport and guidance (PDF, 104KB)
Mouse Passport and guidance (DOC, 68KB)