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.