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. EMMA's commitment to cryopreserving mouse lines is at the core of its activities and underpins EMMA's support for the principles of the 3Rs: replacement, reduction and refinement. EMMA implemented a number of measures which constitute a refinement of experimental procedures in the handling of animals. All of the resources available through the EMMA network are easily accessible and made visible via the INFRAFRONTIER website. Moreover, EMMA strongly promotes the shipment of frozen material in an attempt to minimize the welfare issues associated with the movement of live mice. However, if live mice are sent to EMMA or if live mice are requested from the archive, EMMA ensures that mice are shipped according to conditions that comply with LASA (Laboratory Animals Science Association) guidelines.
EMMA / INFRAFRONTIER does endorse the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments) guidelines that are intended to improve the reporting of animal experiments. They have been published in the journal PLoS Biology and eleven other journals. Previous work by the NC3Rs showed that many publications reporting publicly funded animal research from the UK and US lacked key information on how the study was designed, conducted and analysed, which could limit their value in informing future scientific studies and policy. The guidelines have been developed by the NC3Rs to improve standards of reporting and ensure that the data from animal experiments can be fully evaluated and utilised. The guidelines are primarily aimed at scientists writing up their research for publication and for those who are involved in peer review. Developed in consultation with the scientific community, including researchers, statisticians, journal editors, and funders, the guidelines consist of a 20-point checklist of the essential information that should be included in publications reporting animal research. The ARRIVE guidelines are endorsed by over 300 journals, funders, universities and learned societies.
- The careful management of colony size ensures that supply matches the demand, therefore the production of surplus mice is avoided. In this regard EMMA has established the option to express interest in ordering lines while they are in the freezing and QC process. This makes it possible for EMMA to fulfill customer orders by using the mice that are re-established for QC purposes, rather than simply culling the animals.
- Whenever possible, surplus males are used for other scientific purposes e.g. the production of pseudo-pregnant females.
- Regular reviews are carried out to ensure that those lines which are not being requested or are only used sporadically are not maintained.
- Cryopreservation strategies are used that minimize the number of animals to meet scientific objectives.
- During the course of the EUMODIC project the pipeline for phenotyping, SOPs and data analyses were continuously optimized to use the fewest number of animals possible. The pipeline that will be used within INFRAFRONTIER-I3 uses a cohort of seven female and seven male mice for a comprehensive first line phenotyping analysis.
Health status & other procedures
- Veterinary advice is provided on animal welfare to:
1) Ensure the high health status of the mouse colonies is maintained and to recommend when re-derivation is necessary
2) Improve surgical procedures e.g. choice and dose of anaesthetic agent; avoid hypothermia; minimise infection; determine best site, size and number of incisions and method of closure (vasectomy, embryo transfer), appropriate post-operative care, including analgesia.
- To promote as best practice the use of the least invasive method that provides an adequate sample for genotyping and a highly reliable identification at the same time.
- The nature of individual phenotypes and appropriate specialist care associated with novel mouse mutants is being determined through the IMPC initiative.
- All personnel involved are trained to the highest standards and are competent to provide the necessary level of husbandry and care to minimize any suffering in all the animal procedures undertaken from birth to death. This training is controlled and supervised by a named veterinary surgeon.
- Careful colony management ensures the timely use of animals by scientists in experiments, as well as the enforcement of humane endpoints.
- Harmful effects associated with gene modifications are minimized by maintaining heterozygous lines.
- Animal records are kept on local databases. In addition, phenotype data and an animal welfare catalogue will be recorded in a public phenotype database such as IMPC.
- General health, welfare and performance assessments are recorded in databases.
- Personnel responsible for managing colonies monitor reproductive indices such as litter size, pre-and post-weaning losses, developmental and birth defects, so that appropriate actions can be taken.
- Records include a range of indicators e.g. recognizable signs of abnormal phenotypes that are also recorded in databases.
- The results of welfare assessments are disseminated to all other relevant persons e.g. care staff, veterinary staff and scientists.
- All welfare information associated with a particular mouse strain and any specialist care required is provided to other scientists via public databases.