The use of genetically altered (GA) animals has become a mainstay of biomedical research, with new technical approaches (such as CRISPR/Cas9) accelerating the pace at which new animal models become available. This raises scientific, ethical and logistical issues, in terms of the generation, breeding, maintenance and use of these animals, together with challenges in terms of applying the principles of replacement, reduction and refinement (the 3Rs).
With this in mind, the NC3Rs established a working group, including international experts on breeding, managing and archiving colonies, to define best practice in breeding and colony management. As part of this agenda, the document, originally written in 2009 by the RSPCA (in association with the MRC, BBSRC, CRUK and the NC3Rs), has been updated to reflect how current best practices in the archiving and sharing of GA strains can provide an opportunity for reduction and refinement.
Although there is a focus on mice, as the most frequently used animal in biomedical research, the concepts in this guidance can be applied to all common purpose-bred laboratory species. For the purposes of this document, archiving is defined as the storage of frozen (cryopreserved) embryos or gametes which preserves the genetic stock and eliminates the need to maintain the stock as live animals. These cryopreserved resources are often the best means of sharing GA strains with other scientists, while avoiding the welfare concerns related to transporting live animals. This document is intended to provide an overview of current best practice and includes a comprehensive list of resources for more detail on each topic.
This document will be of interest to those involved with the governance and management of animal facilities, as well as individual colony managers from technical and research backgrounds.
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