APCF advises Faculty, their students and professional and technical staff that in order to assist their research efforts in conducting humane best-practice research using animal models we have initiated a Post-Approval Monitoring (PAM) system. The PAM system is required by the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals 8th ed. The PAM initially will be conducted weekly and will be conducted by randomly selecting cages from a designated room. The responsible technician will examine one single-sided rack or a side of a double-sided rack. Animals and cage status will be observed in situ (in order to not disrupt the animals), accuracy of cage card will be checked against the details described in AEC-approved protocol. Any deficiencies will be recorded. A report will be prepared for the responsible PI. Every quarter our contract veterinarian Dr. Chris Yip will audit our PAM programme and report to the Director APCF who will in turn prepare a semi-annual report for both the Chairman of the AEC and the VPRG. The new policy can be found on the Policies and Procedures page of the InfoSite website.



Faculty, their students and professional and technical staff may be aware that APCF technical staff have started a blitz of ensuring correct and complete details are recorded on the cage cards. This requirement is not new but over the years compliance with the requirement has slackened. International best practice dictates that all cage cards must have adequate information so that vivarium staff can respond to health and other issues in a timely manner. Such responses may mean contacting users, providing treatment or being able to cross reference a cage of animals with an IACUC protocol. This blitz on completed cage card will continue until we get a 100% compliance. Thank you for your understanding.


Guidelines for Animal Medical Record Keeping and Transfer of Records Between NIH Intramural Animal Facilities by the Office of Animal Care and Use





Recently our SO conducted an in-house quality assurance test on the disinfectant APCF has been using for the sanitizing of the BSLII cabinets and Animal Transfer Stations (ATS). His results were a surprise to all staff as they demonstrated significant microbial resistant to the antiseptic APCF has been using.

The bacterial growth of the stock solution and the working solution both showed bacterial growth too numerous to count. Gram typing, speciation and serotyping of the organisms was not performed.

APCF staff were concerned about changing the disinfectant used in APCF because of behavioural changes to animals that may occur from the novel odour of a new disinfectant introduced into the vivarium. But APCF staff realised that the current situation of a disinfectant which actively supported microbial growth was unacceptable.

APCF senior staff have therefore implemented a new Procedure for disinfecting cages and other items transferred into BSLII cabinets or ATS. It now requires spraying the outside surfaces of the item with 80% ethanol, 5% isopropyl alcohol, before placing inside the protected area of the BSLII cabinet or the ATS  and then once in the protected area wiping the wet surface with an autoclaved and one use ‘KimwipR’ (i.e. the ‘KimwipR’ must be disposed after wiping down the outside surface of the item). The new procedure can be read on the Policies and Procedures page of the InfoSite website

Floors of the vivarium will now be cleaned with scent-free VirkonR disinfectant. VirkonR has a broad spectrum of anti-microbicidal activity and it also has surfactant properties that help shift dirt from surfaces. Hence, it is an ideal floor cleaning chemical.


Antec (2003) A comparison of Virkon® versus Hypochlorite Antec (A DuPont Company) Human Health Technical Information Bulletin

Chan YF1, Abu Bakar S. (2005) Virucidal activity of Virkon S on human enterovirusMed J Malaysia. Jun;60(2):246-8.
Gasparini R, Pozzi T, Magnelli R, Fatighenti D, Giotti E, Poliseno G, Pratelli M, Severini R, Bonanni P, De Feo L. (1995)

Evaluation of in vitro efficacy of the disinfectant Virkon. Eur J Epidemiol. Apr;11(2):193-7

Moorer WR (2003) Antiviral activity of alcohol for surface disinfection. Int J Dent Hyg. Aug;1(3):138-42.

Rutala WA, Weber DJ, and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (2008) Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities

van Engelenburg FA, Terpstra FG, Schuitemaker H, and Moorer WR, (2002) The virucidal spectrum of a high concentration alcohol mixture. J Hosp Infect 1(2):121-5.




Faculty, their students and professional and technical staff are reminded that they must keep abreast with Hong Kong laws involving animals, in particular, Cap 340 and Cap 169.

The Department of Health licence provides permission for researchers to conduct experiments on live animals and this permission extends only as far as the conditions of the researcher’s licence are obeyed. A breach of licence conditions leaves a researcher potentially liable for prosecution under Cap 169. Please ensure you precisely follow the conditions of your Dept. of Health licence.

All individuals that are directly involved in experimenting on animals must have a Dept. of Health licence. This means all Faculty, students, professional staff and technical staff if they are active participants in an experiment must each hold a Dept. of Health licence. Blanket licences are only permissible for teaching classes which use animals.

Cap 340 also obligates a licence holder to complete an annual return on Form 7 by the end of the calendar year (i.e. December 31st). APCF will help all researchers complete their Form 7s by providing accurate statistics of all animals used for all of their licenced experiments.

A detailed description of Hong Kong laws involving animals is available on the Policies and Procedures page of the InfoSite.


Recent discussions in the office of APCF have highlighted some concerns about anaesthetics, in particular the OLD stand-by agents: chloral hydrate and avertin. I emphasise the word old, as both chloral hydrate and avertin are outdated.

Firstly, Chloral hydrate: this agent needs to be justified to the AEC and the AEC must give approval for its use. Approval must be based on scientific rationale and not on cost, availability or past experience/preferences of the user.

Chloral hydrate has traditionally been justified because it lasts approximately two hours and is thought to have minimal impact on the cardiovascular system. This is considered a good feature of this agent.

However there is no analgesia with chloral hydrate and the depth of anaesthesia is variable and the quality of anesthesia questionable. These adverse factors impact on the welfare of the animal.

Chloral hydrate’s use in recovery surgery is unacceptable because it causes peritonitis and paralytic ileus if it is too concentrated.

Finally the justification that chloral hydrate has minimal effect on the cardiovascular system is flawed it is a significant respiratory depressant.

PIs are advised to re-consider their anaesthetic choice away from the use of chloral hydrate

Further reading:

Baxter, M. G., Murphy, K. L., Taylor, P. M., & Wolfensohn, S. E. (2009). Chloral Hydrate Is Not Acceptable for Anesthesia or Euthanasia of Small Animals. Anesthesiology, 111(1), 209.

Beland, F. A., Schmitt, T. C., Fullerton, N. F., & Young, J. F. (1998). Metabolism of chloral hydrate in mice and rats after single and multiple doses. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part A, 54(3), 209–226.

Field, K. J., White, W. J., & Lang, C. M. (1993). Anaesthetic effects of chloral hydrate, pentobarbitone and urethane in adult male rats. Laboratory Animals, 27(3), 258–269.

Silverman, J., & Muir, W. W. 3rd. (1993). A review of laboratory animal anesthesia with chloral hydrate and chloralose. Laboratory Animal Science, 43(3), 210–216.

Secondly, Avertin which has not been commercially available for many years has been replaced tribromoethanol (TBE). TBE mimics Avertin’s mode of action, but TBE is a non-approved (FDA) and non-pharmaceutical chemical. PIs are using TBE because it is cheap, readily available and easily prepared for a non-pharmaceutical grade chemical.

TBE is still used in the anaesthesia of mice for embryo transfers. There are many reports that describe the safe and effective use of this drug provided PIs strictly adhere to the precautions necessary for preparation and storage.

However, there are many reports that describe complications to the use of TBE and this is resulting in questions about the use of TBE in animal models being asked by many reviewers of papers and editors of journals. PIs are being asked to justify the use of TBE (and other non-pharmaceutical reagents) on scientific grounds because of the fear that the use of unapproved reagents may have unforeseen consequences on the animal causing it distress and suffering during and/or after an experimental procedure.

These concerns need to be addressed by the PI and considered by the AEC before any protocol is approved.

PIs are generally reluctant to modify an existing anaesthetic regimen because it adds another variable to the protocol and therefore can affect research parameters making outcome comparisons difficult. However, it is a requirement of humane animal care and use to use less harmful pharmaceutical-grade drugs when available. The use of TBE needs to be justified to the AEC and the AEC must give approval for its use. Approval must be based on scientific rationale and not on cost, availability or experience/preference of the user.

Therefore, the PI should think about other anaesthetic regimens that might be just as good and safer. The most common examples include; isoflurane inhalant, ketamine/xylazine injectable or ketamine and other injectable drug combinations. The PI needs to be prepared to conduct a pilot study and comparison of key outcomes under different anesthetic regimens in order to provide definitive answers which in turn will aid the AEC in making a decision about a particular anaesthetic regimen. The use of a non-pharmaceutical-grade reagent can only be justified and approved when scientific necessity dictates that it must be used.

Further reading:

Anestidou, L. (2003). A Change is in Order. Lab Animal, 32(2), 20.

Gardner DJ, Davis JA, Weina PJ, Theune B. Comparison of tribromoethanol, ketamine/acetylpromazine, Telazol/xylazine, pentobarbital, and methoxyflurane anesthesia in HSD:ICR mice. Lab Anim Sci. 1995 Apr;45(2):199-204.

Lieggi C, Artwohl J, Leszczynski J, Rodriguez N, Fickbohm B, Fortman J. Efficacy and safety of stored and newly prepared tribromoethanol in ICR mice. Contemp Top Lab Anim Sci. 2005 Jan;44(1):17-22.

Lieggi C, Fortman J, Kleps R, Sethi V, Anderson J, Brown C, Artwohl J. An evaluation of preparation methods and storage conditions of tribromoethanol. Contemp Top Lab Anim Sci. 2005 Jan;44(1):11-6.

Meyer, R. E., & Fish, R. E. (2005). A review of tribromoethanol anesthesia for production of genetically engineered mice and rats. Lab Animal, 34(10), 47–52.

Papaioannou VE, Fox JG. Efficacy of tribromoethanol anesthesia in mice. Lab Anim Sci. 1993 Apr;43(2):189-92.

Reid, W. C., Carmichael, K. P., Srinivas, S., & Bryant, J. L. (1999). Pathologic changes associated with use of tribromoethanol (avertin) in the Sprague Dawley rat. Laboratory Animal Science, 49(6), 665–667.

Silverman J, Schucker AE, Anestidou L, Villarreal Acosta Y. Anesthetics in GEM: does TBE make the grade? Lab Anim (NY). 2003 Feb;32(2):19-21.

Weiss J, Zimmermann F. Tribromoethanol (Avertin) as an anaesthetic in mice. Lab Anim. 1999 Apr;33(2):192-3

Zeller, W., Meier, G., Burki, K., & Panoussis, B. (1998). Adverse effects of tribromoethanol as used in the production of transgenic mice. Laboratory Animals, 32(4), 407–413.


On Friday 28th April three members of staff from APCF went to Shenzhen for a one day seminar held at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and sponsored by Tecniplast China.

To the surprise of the APCF satff it was with great pleasure that we met colleagues from most of the other Hong Kong institutions. In fact, the Hong Kong contingent formed a significant proportion of the audience.

The Hong Kong contingent at the Tecniplast Seminar in Shenzhen

Speakers were of an international reputation and included Dr. Khary Adams, ‎Director, Laboratory Animal Resources at Incyte, Dr. Fon Chang, Sr. Director Global Comparative Medicine at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Mme. Chang from SIAT and Mr. Leopoldo Zauner from Techniplast

To say that old dogs learn no new tricks was proved totally incorrect because several ideas described by the speakers resonated with the APCF staff who amongst them have approx. 75 years of combined experience. UST Faculty will notice some changes soon to be introduced which will ensure management of animal health becomes more streamlined.

These changes will be posted Policies & Procedures page of the InfoSite website.


While on the subject of RP it concerns me that Faculty, their students, and professional and technical staff have not given due consideration to potential research complications of the use of BNP (Bacitracin, Neomycin, and Polymixin) Cream for the treatment of RP. BNP cream does seem to eliminate opportunistic infection (and by extension the inflammation caused) of exposed rectal mucosa when the lesion is either a redden anus or slightly inflamed (less than 1mm protrusion) but it seems to have little benefit on RP greater than 1mm. We do not use anti-inflammatories such as NSAIDs. Faculty, their students and professional and technical staff need to consider the benefit of using mice with RP especially if they have had extensive treatment with BNP as no medication is benign, i.e. without systemic consequences. While the literature is limited on the research consequences of the three antibiotics in BNP cream it is known the polypeptide antibiotics (Bacitracin and Polymixin) and aminoglycoside antibiotics do have systemic effects.

Further reading:

Hancock, R. E., & Chapple, D. S. (1999). Peptide antibiotics. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 43(6), 1317–23. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10348745

Hilchie, A. L., Wuerth, K., & Hancock, R. E. W. (2013). Immune modulation by multifaceted cationic host defense (antimicrobial) peptides. Nature Chemical Biology, 9(12), 761–768. https://doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.1393

Kwiatkowska, B., Maslinska, M., Przygodzka, M., Dmowska-Chalaba, J., Dabrowska, J., & Sikorska-Siudek, K. (2013). Immune system as a new therapeutic target for antibiotics. Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology, 4(4), 91–101. https://doi.org/10.4236/abb.2013.44A013

Morris, T. H. (1995). Antibiotic therapeutics in laboratory animals. Laboratory Animals, 29(1), 16–36. https://doi.org/10.1258/002367795780740393

Schroeder, R. (2000). Modulation of RNA function by aminoglycoside antibiotics. The EMBO Journal, 19(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1093/emboj/19.1.1


On Wednesday 26th of April, Veterinary Officers of Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department visited APCF for an informal visit to discuss with APCF staff their understanding of the Mainland’s definition of Specific Pathogen Free and what is expected of APCF if it is to export rodents to colleagues in the Mainland.

APCF director Dr. Anthony James described the initiatives recently implemented to satisfy the requirements of surveillance for diseases with APCF colonies. Dr. Siva Tsang and Mr. William Chau, Scientific Officers of APCF, described their respective units to the officers and described their monitoring practices of animal health which ensured compliance with Mainland requirements.

Mr. William Chau explains the management of Zone 7J to veterinary officers from the AFCD

The officers then had a tour of the APCF animal areas. It was with great pride and a sense of humility that we received fully satisfactory comments about our current management practices from the senior officer Dr. Kenny Ho.


Notification of cage allocation will for the foreseeable future be done on a one to one basis. The procedure will be as usual in that Faculty after being informed of the next round of space applications will request cage space allocation on the appropriate request form from the APCF Advisory Committee and the applicants will, in the following week, be interviewed by one of the APCF’s senior staff member/s to determine the applicant’s priority for space. These interviews will assist APCF to develop a ranking of needs. The applicant/s will be notified in writing within 48 hours of the completion of the round of interviews of the space allocated via a memo from the APCF Director who will have the decision ratified at the next meeting of the APCF Advisory Committee. This new procedure will shorten the time applicants wait for notification of cages allocated and it should ensure space allocation is on a needs basis.


Starting June 2017, APCF senior staff will be found in new offices located in room 5488 on the 5th floor of the Division of Life Sciences. Access is via lifts 25 and 26. Call by, have a coffee or tea, and discuss your research models and see how APCF services can help you add value to your research effort. From complying with requests for assistance including preparing animals for surgery, treating surgical wounds, observing animals on test, delivering animals to satellite facilities or providing care for animals in satellite facilities. APCF has qualified and experienced staff that can help Faculty, students professional staff and technical staff with their animal care and use needs.