Animal Facility

Animal facility and veterinary care at Biocytogen Boston

This page describes the animal facility and veterinary care at Biocytogen Boston. Our facility supports the provisioning of preclinical services to investigators looking to accomplish animal research objectives at Biocytogen’s Wakefield, MA facility. All animals are cared for and used in accordance with guidelines set forth by The Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International. The facility is also operated under the guidance of an attending veterinarian.

Our Institutional Care and Use Committee (IACUC) oversees the company’s animal program, animal facilities, and all projects using animals. The IACUC approves all protocols involving animal research and assists scientists and staff in upholding Biocytogen Boston’s commitment to providing the finest care and most humane utilization of laboratory animals.Entrance into the animal facility is strictly limited to trained investigators and staff with approved key card access. To ensure the security of the animals and facility, the entrance is closed to non-approved personnel and continuously monitored by video camera. Approved external visitors may visit the facility only in areas where procedures are not currently in-progress, and must confirm that they have had no contact with rodents or visited another animal facility within 48 hours.

Institutional Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

A laboratory mouse in a cage.

This committee, appointed by the Institute Official of Biocytogen Boston, is responsible for overseeing the humane care of and animal use at Biocytogen Boston’s animal facility, as described in the National Research Council’s Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the United States Animal Welfare Act.

The IACUC meets semi-annually to review new and amended research protocols, develop policy, and investigate allegations of animal misuse. The IACUC also conducts a semi-annual review of all animal housing and use locations and the animal care program.

All use of animals in research is restricted to specific uses and experimental procedures described in an Animal Use Protocol (AUP) that is approved by the IACUC.

All use of animals at Biocytogen Boston Animal Facility must be described in an application that is submitted to this committee approval process. Animals may not be purchased or housed at Biocytogen Boston Animal Facility without protocol approval from the IACUC.

Our single barrier facility contains four animal holding rooms and capacity to accommodate 1100 cages using the Innorack individually ventilated cage (IVC) Mouse 3.5 system (see more below).

• Immuno-competent and immuno-deficient mice are always housed in separate rooms.

• Portions of all preclinical studies requiring the use of live animals are performed only within the animal facility and animals are never held overnight in other areas.

• The facility’s HVAC system is monitored by an FX-80 Supervisory Controller.

• Temperature, humidity, and lighting are remotely and continuously monitored by Elemental Machines (Cambridge, MA).

Our facility uses the Innorack® IVC Mouse 3.5 system, a top-of-the-line, ventilated rodent housing system designed to fit Innovive disposable IVC cages. The equipped Innorack® features dual HEPA-filtered ventilation, positive and negative modes of operation, transversal airflow, and multiple spatial configurations. Mice are social mammals and, as such, regular social interactions are essential to their normal development and well-being. Group housing of rodents is considered the norm, and all mice used in research at Biocytogen are either paired or group housed unless a specific exception has been justified on scientific grounds and approved by the company’s IACUC. Individual housing for a short, specified duration is acceptable without such justification and approval but only when immediately required to prevent stress and injuries associated with aggression.

• Cages are maintained under a constant negative air flow of 50 ACH (air changes per hour).

• Animals are housed in standard pre-bedded cages with ALPHA-dri® dust-free laboratory animal bedding.

• Temperature is maintained at 72 ± 5°F and 30-70% relative humidity.

• Fluorescent lighting provides consistent illumination 12 hours per day.

• Cages are changed every other week at an animal transfer station.

• Animals have free access to irradiated LabDiet PicoLab® Rodent Diet 20 5053, a 20% protein diet formulated for rat, hamster and mouse colonies.

• Immunocompetent animals are supplied with pre-filled, ultra-pure water in 100% PET plastic disposable water bottles. This water is purified by the manufacturer to have less than 0.1 CFU of bacteria per milliliter and less than 500 ppb of total organic carbon.

• Immunodeficient mice are supplied with pre-filled purified, laboratory-grade acidified water in 100% PET plastic disposable water bottles (pH 2.5-3.0).

• Nesting material (e.g. Nestlets) is routinely provided to animals for well-being and warmth retention without obstructing airflow or dissipation of humidity. Nestlets are composed of sterilized, chemically inert, odorless, and non-ingestible pulped cotton fiber.

• Additional enrichment (Bio-Huts™, Bed-r’Nest) are provided at the discretion of the investigative, animal care, and veterinary staff.

Biocytogen only purchases animals from authorized, reputable vendors to minimize the possibility of introducing infectious agents to our colonies. These vendors are required to perform and report the results of pathogen tests according to pre-established standards.

Currently, animals are only obtained from the following suppliers:

• Biocytogen (Jiangsu Haimen Biocytogen LLC)

• Charles River Laboratories

• The Jackson Laboratory

• Taconic

International animal shipments from Jiangsu Haimen Biocytogen LLC to Boston Biocytogen’s animal facility are primarily executed by Validated Delivery Solutions (VDS).

Shipping is stressful for laboratory animals, and acclimatization to new environments is critical to ensure normophysiologic responses. In the interest of animal welfare and experimental accuracy, we recommend a minimum acclimatization period of 3 days (1 week is preferred) after arrival for animals shipped domestically, and 1 week or more for all animals shipped internationally.

Animal handling is performed only in Class II, Type A2 Biological Safety Cabinets or at the animal transfer station.

Animal procedures are carried out in full accordance with established standards set forth in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 8th edition (N.I.H. Publication No. 85-23). All animals are legally obtained from suppliers licensed by U.S.D.A. or exempted according to Title 9, Chapter I, Subchapter A, Parts 1-4 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Animal care technicians provide routine care for all animals housed in our facility unless otherwise specified by the investigator. This includes observing animals daily and provisioning them with food and water. Environmental conditions for the mice are maintained as specified in the National Research Council’s Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the United States Animal Welfare Act (Section 2.1).

If health concerns about an animal arise, Veterinary Standing Orders are implemented. For specific conditions falling outside the Veterinary Standing Orders, the attending veterinarian is contacted immediately for consultation. In the event that an animal’s condition cannot be treated successfully and with a minimum of pain or distress, the animal is euthanized at the direction of the attending veterinarian or a designee. Clinical signs associated with conditions of concern are handled as described in the applicable Animal Use Protocol approved by the company’s IACUC.

The attending veterinarian makes on-site rounds in the animal facility quarterly. More frequent visits occur on an as-needed basis and the veterinarian is available at all times by phone and email. If for any reason the attending veterinarian is unavailable, prior arrangements are made for a designated substitute to be on call.

Rodents in colonies maintained for research purposes are susceptible to infection with a variety of microbes. Even subclinical infections can compromise and confound research findings obtained using laboratory animals or, in extreme cases, present a hazard to staff working with them. Biocytogen, therefore, considers pathogen surveillance and animal health to be of the utmost importance.

One sentinel cage is maintained per Innovive rack. This cage, in which soiled bedding obtained during routine cage changes is pooled, allows the aggregate monitoring of all cages on the rack. Sentinel cages are shaken by staff daily to allow particulate matter to migrate to the cage’s filter, which remains in place for a monitoring period of 13 weeks (or one quarter). The sentinel cage filter is then submitted to CRL Laboratory Testing Management for specific pathogen screening.

The goal of the surveillance program is to prevent, control, or eliminate the presence of, or infestation by, pests in the animal environment. In addition to the procedures described above, a monthly evaluation of our facility is performed by Buono Pest Control and daily monitoring records are kept to ensure the facility remains pest-free. The table below describes the schedule and manner of pathogen testing.

Biocytogen Boston's pathogen surveillance program

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