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Lab mice are not ‘little furry test tubes’

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By Josh Loeb

Laboratory animals should be viewed as patients to improve the reliability of scientific work.

That is the view of Joseph Garner, associate professor of comparative medicine at Stanford, who argues that many features of the standard lab environment make animals iller than they would otherwise be and this skews scientific outcomes.

He urged a shift away from viewing animals as ‘tools’ or ‘reagents’ towards viewing them as patients – something that would entail more ‘personalised’ care and perhaps the provision of a more natural habitat.

During his keynote speech at the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare symposium in Bruges last week, he said the sterile environment in standard laboratory facilities had led to immunosuppressed mice.

He also said that mice housed singly, as sometimes happens in laboratory conditions, had ‘about 100 times the tumour burden’ compared with their group-housed equivalents.

‘We’ve kept the environment too clean. If you think about that, …

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