DATE: February 9, 2017
TIME: 9:00am PT, 12:00pm ET
The last few years have led to great progress in Chile in terms of laboratory animal care and use. There are new legal mandates to protect laboratory animals, and funding agencies now require all protocols to be evaluated by an ethics committee. Both academic and public institutions that conduct animal research have established ethical review bodies (IACUCs), and IACUCs come together for a yearly national meeting. A recent national survey evaluated rodent housing, in order to estimate the variability of vivaria conditions and their potential effect on experimental results. Some of these results will be discussed during this webinar. The second topic of discussion will be related to surgery: Among the experimental procedures performed on animals, surgery is perhaps at the top of severity levels. Before the existence of IACUCs in Chile, it was up to the researchers as to whether to use analgesics or not, as well as where surgery should be performed, type of anesthesia, personnel conducting surgery and the level of asepsis, if any. Ethics committees must now be informed in detail of all procedures carried out with research animals: The surgical site, previous training of the person performing surgery, type and dose of anesthesia and analgesia, intra-operative support, post-operative care and daily monitoring of animals. In terms of anesthesia, there is progressive use of inhaled anesthesia due to technical advice from Vets and because researchers have realized that gas anesthesia equipment is an investment rather than a cost: mortality rates drop drastically when changing from injected to inhaled anesthesia. Hands-on training surgical courses have become valuable tools to gradually change investigators’ outdated and tradition-based surgical practices. An additional effective measure has been to demonstration of evidence-based information: For example, necropsies performed on animals at the end of protocol to show the effect of poor aseptic technique in organs that were not the target of the experimental protocol, and hence go unnoticed too frequently. Lastly, emphasis has been placed on euthanasia methods: which methods are acceptable, acceptable with conditions and unacceptable. All of these advances require strong institutional support and the certainty that research quality improves when animal welfare is brought into the equation.