Why use mice?

Why use mice?

To offer diagnoses and therapies for a disease, we need to understand its causes. The mouse provides key models for these investigations. It’s physiologically similar to humans and it can develop many of the same diseases, meaning that it can be of great use for the detailed study of the molecules, cells, tissues, and organs involved in human diseases, as well as development of new treatments. Animal research is only undertaken where there are no alternatives, such as cell, tissue, organoid, or computational modelling.

The 3Rs and the Best Models Working Group

The MRC National Mouse Genetics Network is proactively committed to implementing the 3Rs – the refinement, reduction, and replacement of the use of animals in research.

Our objective is to deliver knowledge that will benefit the lives of people, but we do so with an awareness that we have commitments to the animals in our care, and commitments to both minimising their pain and suffering and to improving their welfare.

The decision to support and proceed with mouse research within the Network is taken after extensive consultation and ethical review, which includes opinions from scientific, veterinary, and animal care staff, as well as lay people.

Our Best Models Working Group defines the strategy for replacement opportunities within ongoing and future projects and takes responsibility for articulating, whenever appropriate, the reasons as to why replacements may not be available in specific circumstances.

Much effort is also directed to the refinement of procedures involving animals and the reduction of suffering. For example, in recent years we have:

  • Invested in and developed home cage monitoring systems to allow in-depth data to be collected without disturbing the animals
  • Adopted dynamic breeding and colony management schemes to enable the production of age-controlled cohorts of mice and reduce the overall number of mice bred
  • Established in vitro systems that use cell-permeable recombinases during the creation of new mouse models to eliminate the breeding steps traditionally required to recombine and subsequently segregate genes
  • Reduced the volumes of blood collected for biochemical analyses
  • Developed ways of characterising and assessing the consequences of genetic mutations that have led to the ability to end studies earlier

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