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Why does science use mice in their research?

The use of animals in scientific experiments is the subject of extensive discussions between the scientific community and civil society.

In Brazil, the use of animals in teaching and scientific research must follow ethical standards. The National Council for the Control of Animal Experimentation (Concea), of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), establishes the norms that guide Ethical Committees on the Use of Animals, researchers and professors in the use of animals in classes and research.

Recently, Concea published a resolution that prohibits the use of animals in research, development and control of cosmetics, personal care products and perfumes.

Over the decades, the development of vaccines and drugs against different types of diseases was possible due to the initial testing with the participation of animals. In this context, rodents play a key role in advancing studies.

“It is worth remembering that these animals are also widely used in research and this is not new,” says researcher Felipe Vasconcelos from the Center for Human Genome and Stem Cell Studies at the Institute of Biosciences at the University of São Paulo (USP), in a statement. . The expert adds that rodents are used in research to decipher various scientific questions, including in the field of human genetics.

Among the reasons for choosing rodents for research are the ease of handling and care, the high number of offspring per litter, between 5 and 10, and the relatively low cost of maintaining the breeding. Among the rodents that are most often used in research are rats, especially mice.

The researcher explains that the mouse genome is similar to the human genome, “being around 85% the similarity in the regions that have the information to produce the proteins”.

According to Vasconcelos, there are over a thousand different lineages of these animals and, among them, there are models for studying human diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophies, autism and obesity. The theme was discussed in a series “ABC Modelos Animais”, produced by the Human Genome and Stem Cell Studies Center (Genome USP) and made available on Youtube.

How does ethical control work?

In recent decades, the search for animal welfare and alternatives to reduce its use in research has been a priority for the scientific community.

In Brazil, the so-called Arouca Law (Law No. 11,794 of 2008) determines the ethical limits of the use of vertebrate animals in both teaching and research activities.

“All research projects involving vertebrate animals must first go through the ethical assessment of a committee at the institution where the study is to be carried out. This commission is called Ceua, Commission for Ethics in the Use of Animals (Ceua), which is subordinated to Consea, the National Council for the Control of Animal Experimentation, which in turn is linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of the federal government” , explains researcher Laura Carvalho from the Human Genome and Stem Cell Studies Center.

Ethics committees, present in Brazilian institutions and universities, deliberate on the approval or not of research projects in which experimental protocols with animals are used.

Among the criteria evaluated are the guarantee that the use of animals is justified, considering benefits and potential effects on the well-being of animals. In addition, Ceua advocates the development and use of alternative methods that replace the use or reduce the number of animals in research.

Minimizing the number of animals used in projects or protocols without compromising the quality of the results to be obtained and refining methods in order to avoid pain in the animals used are also ethical recommendations.

(With information from the Journal of USP)

Source: CNN Brasil

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