ANIMAL CARE – A TEAM APPROACH AND SHARED RESPONSIBILITIES

The Guidelines for the care and use of mammals in neuroscience and behavioral research states on page 13:

“A team approach to animal-use protocol development and animal management is valuable for meeting research objectives while maximizing attention to animal care. The team approach relies on the idea of shared responsibilities. Participants include neuroscientists and their laboratory personnel; veterinarians; animal-husbandry staff; the IACUC chair, members, and staff; and the research institution…”

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How is this to be interpreted?

All jurisdictions stipulate that laboratory animals must receive humane care and conditions conducive to their well-being when in research facilities. Responsibilities for humane care and quality-of-life of animals in an institution rests with the Institutional Officer, the Attending Veterinarian and the IACUC. But this arrangement does not remove responsibility from the Principal Investigators who, under the supervision of the IACUC, are ultimately responsible for the conditions under which animals are kept, both within and outside of the context of active experimentation or teaching, and with individuals appointed by the institution to oversee laboratory animal care.

Certainly in nearly all situations this responsibility is delegated to individuals appointed by the institution to oversee laboratory animal care however researchers and the animal-care staff must coordinate their efforts to provide appropriate animal care and monitoring .

The NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (8th edition) strongly affirms the principle that all who care for, use, or produce animals for research, testing, or teaching must assume responsibility for their well-being. The Guide is created by scientists and veterinarians for scientists and veterinarians to uphold the scientific rigor and integrity of biomedical research with laboratory animals as expected by their colleagues and society at large. The fundamental principles endorsed by the Guide direct the research community to accept responsibility for the care and use of animals during all phases of the research effort.

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This position of requiring Principal Investigators to take ultimate responsibility for the animals in their care is not unique:

The Hong Kong Code of Practice Care and Use of Animals
for Experimental Purposes states on page 16:

SECTION 5 INVESTIGATORS
General
5.1 All investigators of a project, including Principal Investigator,
subordinate investigator and other members of the team who are
performing experiments must be appropriately licensed according to
the relevant sections of Cap. 340.
5.2 Investigators have direct and ultimate responsibility for all
matters related to the welfare of their animals. They must act in
accord with all requirements of this Code.
5.3 The responsibility of investigators extends over all facets of
the care and use of animals in projects approved by the AEC. This
responsibility begins when the animal is allocated to the approved
project and ends at the time of disposal of the animal.
5.4 Investigators are responsible for the standard of animal care
and use by all other persons involved in the project. They must
ensure that the extent of supervision is compatible with the level of
competence of each person and the responsibilities they are given.

Singapore’s NACLAR Guidelines states on page 27:

CHAPTER 8:

RESPONSIBILITIES OF INVESTIGATORS

8.1 General

8.1.1 Investigators who use animals for Scientific Purposes have a moral and professional obligation to treat the animals humanely and consider their welfare when planning Projects and conducting experiments.

8.1.2 Investigators have direct and primary responsibility for all matters related to the welfare of the animals under their control, including the general husbandry and housing of those animals as well as the specific experimental Manipulations. They must act in accordance with the Guiding Principles. The responsibility of Investigators extends over all facets of the care and use of animals in Projects approved by the IACUC, beginning from the time the animal is allocated to the Approved Project to the end and disposal of the animal. Investigators are responsible for the standard of animal care and use by all other persons involved in the Approved Project. They should ensure that the extent of supervision is compatible with the level of competence of each person and the responsibilities they are given.

The Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th edition (2013) states on pages 29 and 38 respectively:

2.4 Responsibilities of the Investigator

2.4.1 Investigators have personal responsibility for all matters that relate to the wellbeing of animals that they use, including their housing, husbandry and care. This responsibility extends throughout the period of use approved by the AEC until provisions are made for the animal at the conclusion of their use

2.5 Responsibilities of the Animal Carer

2.5.1 The scope of responsibilities of people who provide care to animals is determined by their role and the stage of the animal use:

(i) Before an animal is supplied to an approved project for which an investigator is responsible, responsibility for the wellbeing of the animal rests with the person who is engaged by the institution to provide care for the animals (e.g. facility manager, animal technician, stock handler).

(ii) The investigator is responsible for the wellbeing of an animal throughout the period of use of the animal in the approved project, until provisions are made for the animal at the conclusion of their use (see Clause 2.4.1). The investigator must ensure that an adequate number of competent people can provide care for the animals (e.g. animal technicians, stock handlers, investigators). If an investigator acts as an animal carer during this period, their responsibilities include those of an animal carer.

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APCF’s Role in Animal Care at HKUST

The APCF staff are ready to assist all Faculty and users in complying with their obligations in the humane care of animals under their control and ensuring the quality-of-life of all animals maintained at HKUST.

APCF staff check animal cages daily, as mandated by the various Guidelines and Codes of Practice described above, but Faculty must also have their staff and students remain vigilant of lid security and feed & water requirements at all times, especially if cages are opened or animals handled after the daily APCF check or cages contain newborn, pre-weaners or vulnerable transgenics.

If Faculty have cage(s) containing newborn, pre-weaners or vulnerable transgenics please have their staff and students mark the cage(s) accordingly using the yellow Request Protocol Assistance card so that APCF staff can pay extra attention to the animals’ needs, e.g putting feed into the cage for ease of access of the young mice and for closer observation of the cage by APCF weekend staff.

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NEW DRUG LABELS

Please note APCF is dispensing all veterinary drugs according to HK dispensing laws. Therefore APCF has a new labels for application to vials containing dispensed medications. Unless otherwise stated, expiry of all dispensed drugs is 30 days after date of dispensing

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NEW CAGE CARDS TO BE USED FROM OCTOBER 3RD

From the 3rd of October APCF will be providing one colour only of cage cards – white.

For Faculty that have been using colour coded cage cards APCF will provide colour stickers, that they can place in the top right hand corner of the cage cards. Users must also include the IACUC number on the cards.

We have purchased 6 of the most commonly used colours but can access up to 20+ additional colours if required.

Below are examples of the new cards and the cards with the colour coded stickers.

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APCF STAFF ATTEND AFCD CONFERENCE – ONE HEALTH: CONNECT & PROACT

APCF staff attended the One health – Connect and Proact Conference on the 5th and 6th September.

Taken from the AFCD website this short introduction tells us what One Health means:

The concept of One Health is a paradigm shift. Contrary to the traditional regimen of handling the health of humans, animals and the environment separately, it considers the health of the three domains as an integrated whole. The health of the three domains are inter-connected, not just animal health or human health or environmental health, but One Health.

The One Health concept has a long history of origin but has only been recognised globally by international organisations in the early 2000s, and its recognition and significance has not ceased to surge due to the increase in antimicrobial resistance, climate change and emerging of life threatening zoonoses in recent years. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) estimated that today at least 75% of emerging infectious diseases of humans have an animal origin and three out of five new human diseases appear every year are of animal origin. With no doubt, the health of humans and animals are bound to and influencing each other closely. Remedial or preventive measures and policies carried out by either the medical or veterinary sector solely will not be able to effectively or thoroughly address the issues that we are facing.

Now all over the world, veterinarians, medical doctors and professionals from other disciplines are adapting the One Health concept and are working together to achieve a better health for all.

The objectives of the conference are to promote the concept of One Health to the public and to provide a platform for professional exchange among scholars on One Health research from all over the world. The conference is expected to gather participants including local and overseas government representatives, veterinary, medical and scientific counterparts from various institutions, professional bodies and academic fields as well as other interested individuals from Hong Kong and elsewhere.  The conference presentations will be in English with some presentations in Putonghua. Simultaneous translation between the two languages will be provided.

About 18 world-renowned speakers are invited to share their expertise and experience on various topics related to One Health and the conference will be a very meaningful and beneficial event to all participants.

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VISIT TO APCF BY PROF. CAMERON RICHARDS

Prof Richards spent time at APCF discussing with the Director (Dr James) the inter-cultural complexities of ethical review committees, which Dr James found valuable as it is an area of personal interest for Dr James and because it is an extremely relevant topic as APCF seeks AAALAC accreditation

Prof Richards with APCF senior staff

Dr. Cameron Richards’ is an Australian professor of interdisciplinary studies with extensive experience in the Asia-Pacific region – including at QUT, Nanyang Uni. Singapore, Hong Kong Institute of Education, University of Western Australia, UTM in Malaysia and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. He has a multi-disciplinary background for a current/future focus on sustainability studies, policy research, academic research and writing methodology, leadership and organizational learning, educational technologies, intercultural communication, curriculum innovation, and new literacies. He currently holds adjunct positions with Southern Cross University and Chulalongkorn University. He also continues to collaborate with NGOs and other agencies (recently including the Indonesian Rainforest Foundation, Arbonaut, and Worldview) on ‘sustainable policy’ projects and proposals in South-East Asia focused on the global and local challenges of better reconciling economic, social and environmental sustainability. He continues : (a) to assist with the academic capacity and policy studies professional development of colleagues (and PhD students) within higher ed. institutions within the region, and (b) to further explore how future academics and universities (e.g. in terms of the complex problem-solving applications of interdisciplinary frameworks) can better work with governments, industries/business, and local community contexts of/for future sustainability.

 

 

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PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT ON RNA MICRO-INJECTION FOR CRISPR/cas9 GENOME EDITING

Drs. Joanne Tam & Siva Tsang – Performance Assessment on RNA Microinjection for CRISPR/cas9 Genome Editing. This work serves as an assessment on the quality of services provided to research groups to generate CRISPR/cas9 genome edited mice. To minimize the influence of variables generated by genotyping and for easy estimation of knockout efficiency, mutagenesis was generated in Tyrosinase (Tyr) on chromosome 7 which is responsible to black coat color and eye pigmentation. A well characterized and efficient CRSPR/cas9 knock out strategy was adopted from Chen et al. (2016) to ensure the assessment outcome is closely associated with the service performance to be assessed. Lastly, to reduce the involvement of more sensile animals (the 3Rs principles) and to speed up the assessment process, E12.5 embryos, instead of postnatal pups, developed from manipulated zygotes were harvested to obtain the assessment outcome. The assessment outcome was quantified by the proportion of embryos losing retinal pigmentation, presumably as the results of detrimental mutations in Tyr. (ref: PMID: 27151215) Transgenic Service Performance Assessement Mar2017

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2017 IACUC TRAINING CONFERENCE

Between the 2nd and 4th of August 3 staff from APCF and 1 staff from HSEO went to southern Taiwan to attend a conference organised by the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology and AAALAC on how an IACUC should function in an AAALAC accredited facility. It was most comprehensive and covered topics such as:

  • Supporting Effective Regulation & Ethical Review of Animal Research
  • Animal Use Protocol Review
  • Program Review & Facility Inspection
  • Veterinarian Role in IACUC
  • OHS Program – What the IACUC should know
  • Role and Function of the IACUC
  • Avoiding IACUC Pitfalls
  • Program Review – Myth and fact
  • AAALAC Expectations for an Animal Care & Use Program
  • AAALAC Program Writing Tips

The speakers were an excellent mix of international and local colleagues and all were experienced with AAALAC international accredited programmes.

The HKUST staff came away with a better understanding of what is required for us to achieve AAALAC accreditation and we took away four things of note:

  • the essential role an effective and active non-affiliated member of IACUC plays in a successful programme
  • the IACUC must meet regularly in face-to-face meetings
  • AAALAC has 15 areas of concern that must be addressed in an IACUC protocol submission
  • the IACUC has an active role in ensuring worker safety and not just humane care and use of animals

HKUST staff with Mr Wong CEO of the Contract Research Organisation called Dr Pig. Mr Wong was also a sponsor of the seminar

The attendance certificates of the APCF staff – we were proud to have participated in a well organised Conference

HKUST staff and Director of the NPUST animal facilities outside the AAALAC accredited reptile facility of NPUST

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