Mickey and Minnie, Speedy Gonzalez, Jerry and the transgenic superhero

In the permanent quest for cures and treatments, rodents such as mice play an important role in research. These animals for most of us are considered as pests, whereas others see in them a pet. For research however apart from its homology with mankind, the value of the animal also lies in its small size, its easy breeding and fast reproductive capacity.  You may have heard some very specific terminology associated with these mice destined for research. Such as for example 'KnockOut'  mice. A good source of information of what constitutes a knockout mouse and its purpose is issued in this factsheet on the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute web site.

 For an overview on transgenic mice their use and purpose, click here.

So these animals are purpose bred in specific pathogen free environments by breeders whom sell them to research institutions. Receiving institutions on the other hand must make sure the animals are adequately handled and cared for. In the US this is done by means of a policy issued by the institution's animal care and use committee (IACUC) as is the case in this example of the University of Montana for the care and use of specific pathogen free mice. Whilst you are on this page you may well take a look at the many other aspects that are the subject of specific policies so as to fully understand that research using animals is not conducted haphazardly or without guidelines.

In addition to get a good understanding of what IACUC is and does I have reproduced below the text from their web site:

What is an IACUC?

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is a self-regulating entity that, according to U.S. federal law, must be established by institutions that use laboratory animals for research or instructional purposes to oversee and evaluate all aspects of the institution's animal care and use program.

Purpose of IACUC.ORG

IACUC.ORG is an information resource for members and staff of institutional animal care and use committees. It is a link archive where online resources are organized by menus and sub menus. Many who browse the Internet for IACUC resources may find it overwhelming to randomly sift through the enormity of Websites and their online materials. IACUC.ORG was developed as an organizational tool to quickly point to a topic of interest, such as protocol forms or disaster plans used by different institutions.

Who we are

AALAS is an organization committed to serving society through education and the advancement of responsible laboratory animal care and use. One of AALAS' goals is to be a resource for continuing education, training, and knowledge exchange.

 Similar entities and or control mechanisms may exist in your country.
 For an overview of the origins of mice in genetic research click here.
 If you want to have an idea of how many animals are used in research, the Nuffield Bioethics organization provides for a good overview here. This again underscores the importance of the use of rodents in research and their contribution to our lives.

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