University of Cologne
At the Cologne site, mainly mice are used as experimental animals. However, naked mole rats, fish, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, sheep and pigs are also used in various experimental projects.
Animal experimental research at the University of Cologne is carried out in modern central facilities. A further new building will combine remaining decentralized smaller husbandries in 2023. Care is provided by competent trained animal care staff. In addition, laboratory animal technicians are trained at the site.
The animal welfare officers advise the management of the laboratory animal facilities, the veterinarians as well as the scientists and employees involved in animal experiments in the sense of the 3Rs - also in the planning and implementation of experimental projects. At the University of Cologne, courses in laboratory animal science are offered for the acquisition of expertise in accordance with EU function A and D, as well as training courses with up-to-date information for the application and implementation of the 3Rs principle and animal welfare-friendly handling.
The animal welfare officers advise the management of the laboratory animal facilities, the veterinarians as well as the scientists and employees involved in animal experiments in the sense of the 3Rs - also in the planning and implementation of experimental projects. At the University of Cologne, courses in laboratory animal science are offered for the acquisition of expertise according to EU function A and D, as well as advanced training courses with current information for the application and implementation of the 3Rs principle and animal welfare-friendly handling.
A major focus at the Cologne site is the production of transgenic mouse lines, which has been significantly improved and accelerated by the introduction of the genome editing process. The use of CRISPR/Cas technologies has enabled the production of increasingly precise disease models in mice, resulting in greater translationality and thus increasing the importance of the individual animal experiment. The development of conditional models allows inducible and tissue-specific modification and reduces unnecessary stress in the animal. In the interest of reducing animal experimentation, imaging techniques such as CT, MRI, PET or ultrasound are used. With the support of the Cologne Center for Genomics (CCG), researchers can also perform studies at the single cell level.
In this way, a maximum amount of information and data can be generated from a small number of animals. Already now, almost all research groups use replacement methods based on human material, such as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), cell culture models, 3D cell culture systems or organoids, prior to animal experiments. In addition, there is often a sharing of mouse cohorts between many different working groups at the site, as well as in cross-site collaborations. Breeding is centrally coordinated and monitored so that overproduction of animals in terms of 3Rs (reduction) is prevented. Genetic quality assurance ensures that mouse lines remain stable and reproducible, and the efficient use of cryopreservation of sperm and embryos reduces maintenance breeding of mice. The Cologne site follows the 3Rs principle in the use of animals and has adopted guidelines for the ethical handling of laboratory animals in research and teaching in 2019.
Objective / Focus
The University of Cologne and its employees are convinced that the humane treatment of laboratory animals is an essential part of good scientific practice. The processes started so far in the area of 3Rs are to be further expanded and intensified in the future. The University of Cologne and its affiliated faculties aim to further optimize breeding planning and management in order to further minimize the number of unused animals.
The consolidation of expertise from iPS cell and organoid research with the service unit "Transgenic Animals" should also help to better evaluate the decision to use an animal or in vitro model. The establishment of a 3R professorship could also make an important contribution to this. The bundling of internal resources as well as a cross-site exchange regarding the implementation of the 3R principles are the overarching goal.