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Key considerations for using preconditioned animals for research

Research on human diseases requires specialist animal cohorts. Preconditioned animal models are therefore critical for drug discovery and development. Preconditioning can refer to several factors, including:

+ Feeding of a specific diet
+ Controlled-environment housing until a particular age
+ A high level of health status and genetic integrity

The successful generation of these models is key for consistent and reliable research outcomes, but requires extensive breeding knowledge, health and genetic monitoring capabilities, and a deep understanding of regulatory environments. Fortunately, outsourcing the complexity involved in generating preconditioned models allows researchers to focus their time and resources on the study and its outcomes.

Below, we discuss what should be considered when entrusting outside organizations with the generation of a preconditioned model.

Expertise in custom diet maintenance

Close collaboration with trained and knowledgeable nutritionists to customize research diets ensures that confounding variables are kept to a minimum.

In addition, some research programs require the formulation of custom diets to induce diseases or conditions. As an example, obesity is a widespread and costly healthcare challenge. Animals fed with customized diets can help researchers to develop a mechanistic understanding of the condition.

At Envigo, our dedicated nutrition team can develop diets for certain weights, ages, or follow a set program for diet maintenance. Our nutritionists are available to answer any questions you may have about your project plans.

Opportunity to customize models to meet the specific needs of a research program

Frequently, researchers require bespoke and highly specialized models to answer their research questions. As an example, due to the globally aging population, there is an increased focus on understanding how age interacts with disease. This requires the development of disease models that are older than standard, and there are additional factors to consider in housing these animals.

A good research model vendor will have the capability to deliver aged animals that have been kept under tightly controlled conditions according to the needs of a research program. Envigo maintains a commercial inventory of male rat and female mouse models, with careful consideration of age-appropriate cages and bedding and fed on life-stage specific diets.

Dedication to health and genetic integrity

Maintaining the health and genetic integrity of research models is essential to minimize variability and improve reproducibility. This can be achieved by using:

+ Highly trained technicians in animal handling, husbandry, and welfare
+ AAALAC and IACUC approved isolators until shipment
+ Environmentally controlled vehicles to ship models directly to the researcher
+ Frequent monitoring and transparent reporting with tried and tested procedures to manage genetic drift
+ High-availability isolators to ensure breeding protocols are optimized to support the health and supply of animals

 

In summary, outsourcing custom models can offer a wide variety of models and services that meet a researcher’s exact specifications. Partnering with a good organization means researchers can outsource the preparation of these models ahead of time, allowing them to focus on the study at hand.