Animal welfare and ethics

The ethical issues of INFRAFRONTIER largely relate to the use of laboratory mice as models for human disease. Human disease conditions are often very complex, due to disturbed interdependencies inside the human body rather than to the impairment of a single function. They are also influenced by parameters like age and gender. Cell culture models are therefore not sufficient as a model system. Full information about human disease conditions can only be obtained from the analysis of a whole animal organism. Overall, the mouse is of all animal models the most suitable model to mimic human disease conditions. The development, body plan, physiology and behaviour of the mouse are similar to that of humans and almost all (99%) human genes have orthologues in the mouse. Results obtained from the analysis of mouse disease models allow to draw valuable conclusions regarding the human disease situation. INFRAFRONTIER will underpin the effort to minimise the use of experimental animals by archiving mouse stocks no longer required for ongoing experiments. The added advantage of this approach is that mouse models can be quickly recovered from the archive. The use of animals for experiments is only ethical if justified by the anticipated benefits.


The Health and Welfare of animals are of paramount importance to INFRAFRONTIER, and this focus has helped to shape the policies and the design of the mouse facilities of network partners. To underpin the focus on animal welfare, INFRAFRONTIER has appointed Dr. Jan-Bas Prins of the University of Leiden as animal welfare expert to the Advisory Board.

EMMA repository

EMMA – the European Mouse Mutant Archive is the primary mouse repository in Europe and is responsible for the archiving and distribution of numerous mouse disease models and research tools. By the nature of its operation EMMA is directly responsible for a significant reduction in the number of experimental animals being used.

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Mouse clinics

The mouse clinics participating in INFRAFRONTIER all contributed to major European phenotyping projects such as the European Mouse Disease Clinic (EUMODIC) project, the first internationally coordinated large scale phenotyping effort, which produced and phenotyped 500 IKMC knockout mouse lines.

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EU and national regulations for animal experimentation

EU regulations

The protection and welfare of animals is an area covered by a wide range of EU legislation. This includes the protection of wildlife, zoo animals, farm animals, animals in transport and animals used for scientific purposes.

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Mouse Welfare Terms

INFRAFRONTIER supports and uses a standardised language for describing mouse welfare as detailed on the Mouse Welfare Terms website


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