responsible use of animals
Cancer can be divided in many types and subtypes, but they all share a common characteristic and that is uncontrolled cell division and growth. Though many aspects of cancer can be studied accurately in vitro using cell culture based assays and advanced DNA and RNA techniques. Other aspects can only be studied in the whole organism, such as metastasis to distant organs, interaction of the tumor cells with nearby tissue and immune system, and the effectiveness of new anti-cancer therapies and drugs. In these cases we use the mouse as the preferred model system. Similar considerations apply to aging-related diseases.
All our mouse studies are performed in accordance with the Dutch and European regulations on care and protection of laboratory animals. Prior to execution each animal experiment has been evaluated and approved by the Netherlands National Committee for the protection of animals (In Dutch: Centrale Commissie Dierproeven (CCD)) and the animal-welfare body (In Dutch: Instantie voor Dierenwelzijn (IvD)). The MCCA takes active steps to comply with the three R’s in animal testing.
The development and implementation of the GEMM-ESC approach in our transgenic core facility minimizes the breeding needs. Experimental cohorts are generated on-demand and ready-to-use, thereby reducing the number of mice needed per experiment.
In 2017, the MCCA transgenic facility acquired the goGermline technology from Ozgene. This technology is based on the use of goGermline blastocysts for injection of embryonic stem cells (ESC). This new technology eliminates the competition with the host blastocysts and results in 100% ESC derived offspring. In 2017 it was awarded the ISTT 3Rs prize.
Embryo transfer of injected embryos into foster mothers is a crucial step in the generation of new mouse models. Typically this is performed by surgical procedure. Since 2011, we have replaced this invasive procedure with the routine use of the Non-Surgical Embryo Transfer (NSET) with great success, minimizing distress for the foster mothers. For this effort we were awarded the national price for “Alternatives for Animal Testing 2013”. The procedure is described in our Transgenic Research publication of 2014.
When planning animal experiments alternative methods that yield the same quality of data are carefully considered.