mice

Animal researchers have apparently been making a big mistake with the treatment of their lab mice. Besides the dismal fact that they are using mice at all, many labs are keeping their mice at a temperature too cold for them which is skewing results, reports Nature.com.

The study “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”  was published by Elizabeth Repasky from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo and her colleagues. The study shows that tumor growth was faster in mice who were kept at room temperature and immune responses to cancer were suppressed.

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For physiologist Ajay Chawla of the University of California, “This study addresses an important issue that I think most of us have ignored … I tell my colleagues, ‘You’re modelling human disease and pathology in an organism that is like somebody who is on speed.’”

Mice aren’t perfect human analogs, (as we’ve seen with rats) and with the recent upswing in animal testing alternatives in the medical field, it’s time that more labs switched their resources toward helping these more humane and accurate methods become a reality. The recent publication of staggering numbers of research animals killed in the UK also serve to demonstrate how disposable these animals are to researchers.

Jan Parker-Thornburg, manager of the facility that hosts genetically engineered mice at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, says, “Animal-care guidelines call for mice to be kept at room temperature in part for the comfort of the researchers.”

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If the primary purpose of an animal lab is to produce the most accurate results possible to cure human diseases, shouldn’t the biggest considerations be given to the animals and not the temporary discomfort of the employees?

Image Source: Maggie Bartlett / Wikipedia Commons

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