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16 May, 2019 - 17:34 By Tony Quested

Sanger Institute closing animal research facility

Genome Research Limited mouse Sanger Institute

The world renowned Sanger Institute in Cambridge is throttling back on the amount of research it conducts using mice as it ramps up its use of alternative technologies to deliver its scientific strategy.

The organisation, which led the historic mapping of the Human Genome, intends to close its animal research facility, saying fewer mice are now needed in its wide ranging scientific discovery odyssey.

Where it deems it essential to use mice for future experimentation it will use external institutions.

Professor Sir Mike Stratton, director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said the closure was expected to take place over the next few years. 

Talks will continue over coming months to establish how to deliver this change in line with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, to safeguard the welfare of the animals.

The staff that operate the animal facility will be fully supported throughout the process. Business Weekly is bidding to ascertain how many staff – and animals – are affected by the move.

Sir Mike said: “Scientific research involving mice will remain an important part of Sanger Institute science and will continue at reduced levels in the future.

“This has been a difficult decision but we believe it is the best way to continue to deliver the science and make the discoveries that impact on human health and the natural world.”

He said the decision followed a full and rigorous review, consultation with the Sanger Institute board and the Genome Research Limited board, which has representation from Wellcome.

Sanger is increasingly using alternative technologies to deliver its scientific strategy and this has led to fewer mice being needed. Because of this decrease in animal numbers, transferring the mouse work to another facility is the best way for the institute to deliver all of its scientific goals, Sir Mike said.

Sanger added that it was “working with other institutions to find a solution to accommodate its future mouse research requirements.”

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