Research labs are learning to make life easier for their test animals. Researchers are moved by concerns about the public perception of the treatment of lab subjects. But, they are also concerned about the costs and negative research that follows poor treatment.
In short, they have learned to optimize the effects of their research and to reduce costs over all. It makes great good sense to care for their living test subjects that prove the efficacy of drugs and procedures that students in medical school and EMS training learn to use on humans.
Why live mice?
Ian Barry, writing for the Washington College’s The Elm put the argument clearly: “Animal research is (and has been for a long time) an essential part of the scientific process. If you want to study how a disease progresses, the effects of brain injury, the effects of a drug, or even some aspect of behavior, you have two options. Study it in animals or study it in humans.”
Lab mice are not your average rodent. They are bred to be ready for testing on disease and the efficacy of drugs. As reported at NBC News, “With proper manipulation — either by man or nature — a set of mouse genes can produce an animal with just about any human ailment, or a reasonable facsimile of it.”
Conditioned to be DNA unique, the mice can be pricey. Specifically, mice are mammals that mimic human genetic features. Their metabolism, anatomy, physiology, and more provide parallels worth testing and studying.
So, mice are bred to be disease prone or disease resistance, Alzheimer’s inclined or not, and so on. Keeping them fit and anxiety free becomes vital to the testing validity.
How do you reduce mice stress?
Researchers and lab mice handlers must comply with layers of regulatory guidelines on the ethical treatment of lab subjects. They must follow rules and secure accreditation if they expect to seek funds or get approval of their work.
So, finding a non-surgical, minimally invasive way to identify the lab mice takes priority. Until recently, labs resorted to cutting a notch in the mouse’s ear, tattooing its legs or hide, or surgically inserting micro-chips.
The identification let the assistants identify the animals by breeding strain, gender, age, and testing experience. But, the identification process increased their handling and stresses.
According to the engineers at RapID Lab, their automated ear tags promise a responsible, effective, and economic alternative, “the new industry standard in automated lab animal identification.”
What’s so new?
Automated ear tags pierce a mouse ear like and earring. Made of inert polymers, they are infection resistant and reusable.
They can also pass through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and you can sterilize them without damage in an autoclave.
What’s unique is the 2-D barcode sported by the mouse. Dense with data on the mouse’s origin and its testing experience, the code can be easily scanned with the data moving instantly to reporting mechanisms.
As a result, the mouse is handled less frequently. The handling is more purposeful and focused. And, the risk of infection and further physical damage is minimized.
Happy mice? Happy researchers!