The main issue of genetic quality assurance for research institutions is that awareness of the importance of genetic quality assurance and use of genetic monitoring techniques have not kept pace with the rapid expansion in rodent strains and stocks of genetically modified animals.
As a result, scientists, animal care personnel and animal facility managers cannot always be certain that the specific strains of research animals they develop and/or use are genetically sound and truly representative of their assumed genotype.
If left unchecked, this situation will lead to an increase in the number of genetically contaminated animals used in research and a greater inconsistency in experimental results.
The ICLAS Genetic Quality Monitoring Program, is focused on the genetic monitoring of rodents (mice and rats), both inbred and outbred (or closed colony animals), with the following three objectives:
Objective 1: For the ICLAS LAQ Network (LAQ Network) to promote education and training to increase awareness of the importance of genetic quality monitoring, as follows:
to promote awareness of the benefits of genetic quality assurance (QA) among research scientists and their institutions.
to provide the research community with basic genetic monitoring techniques required to insure animal strain consistency.
to promote educational programs that teach basic, high quality animal husbandry procedures to the animal care staffs at research institutions.
Objective 2: to provide advice and guidance on genetic quality testing
The LAQ Network has proposed some guidelines for developing in-house genetic monitoring programs,click here for details. These guidelines will be developed and used as the first step in education in this area. The LAQ Network will also provide written guidelines for choosing markers appropriately.
Objective 3, to establish a self- assessment genetic monitoring program.
At the 2014 LAQ Netwok meeting during the AALAS National Meeting in San Antonio following 18 months of planning, the ICLAS Animal Quality Network approved a draft proposal to establish an ICLAS Genetic Monitoring Reference Program.
Under this program, reference DNA from the most commonly used rodent breeds will be made available to enable research institutions worldwide ( program participants) to check whether the specific strains of research animals they have developed are genetically sound and truly representative of their assumed genotype.
Like PEP, the GENReference program will be self-financing. For each DNA shipment, program participants will pay a fee to cover production, shipping and administration costs.
The initial focus will be on the genetic monitoring of rodents (mice and rats), both inbred and outbred (or closed colony animals). The program will start with trials involving those research facilities currently performing rodent genetic monitoring and will be opened later to other institutions as they become confident in their capabilities. It is expected that GENReference Program will be fully operating by June 2015
For full details of the proposal and to participate in a survey to help us develop the program, please see ICLAS GENReference Program.