Refinement of our practices enables us to improve conditions for animals.
Our researchers are continually improving the way experiments are carried out to provide the best possible conditions for animals that are involved in research. This includes better housing conditions, as well as refining experimental procedures.
Staff within the School of Informatics have received funding through the NC3Rs CRACKIT Challenges Programme to develop a mouse cage with an integrated monitoring system. This will allow scientists to monitor specific types of behaviour and to study social interactions in mice that are involved in research into nervous system disorders.
The automated, non-surgical system will improve animal welfare for this type of research, since animal handling and other interventions will be greatly reduced.
It will also allow for monitoring of individual mice when housed together in their natural grouping, producing more reliable results compared with current observational methods.
Animal studies are a vital tool for probing the biological mechanisms of multiple sclerosis and testing the efficacy of potential therapies.
One approach involves injecting a molecule called myelin basic protein (MBP) mixed with a chemical agent called complete freund’s adjuvant (CFA) into the skin of mice. This triggers the immune system to attack nerve cells, inducing symptoms similar to those associated with MS. A side effect of this is long-lasting inflammation at the injection site, which can be painful.
Researchers at the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research have developed a new approach that involves using specialised immune cells called dendritic cells to deliver MBP without the need for CFA. This induces the symptoms of MS but with significantly reduced inflammation at the injection site.