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PhD FIAT R.An.Tech PTLLS, Associate Fellow at GSK, Joanna has recently published an interesting E-Poster on InsideScientific.

Joanna, can you summarize your study?

It was an interesting project. The aim was to investigate if the system would detect differences between the activity of mice when offered different nesting options. We gave each mouse a different nesting option and we then scored the nest and compared the score of the nest with the activity in the time frame that was two-hours directly after the new nesting and cage change took place.

We found that there does seem to be a correlation between activity and nesting, which we will investigate further using a cross over design. This should give us a clearer answer in terms of whether this activity is related to nest construction.

Why did you decide to use a Home Cage Monitoring system? What are the benefits in your opinion?

We are looking at several Home Cage Monitoring systems, including the DVC®, my part of the overall project was focused on the DVC®. To summarize the benefits these systems can offer are mainly an opportunity to have an objective assessment of animals while they are in their home-cage. We are also able to intervene sooner as we can see reductions in activity from the data outputs which can lead us to pay closer attention to the animals.

One area I have really found of interest since using the DVC® is the ability to be able to "see" the activity of the mice across a 24 hour period, which could lead to us being able to pick a window of time during the working day when we know particular mice are usually awake. This may help us to time interventions to coincide with periods they are usually awake.

With the amount of data generated these systems have the potential to produce data to feed into Machine Learning, the data we generate will tell us even more in terms of seeing trends and patterns that are not visible to the human eye. We have some great opportunities ahead of us in terms of refining welfare and improving our scientific results.

Did you get the expected added value from the DVC® system?

I think the DVC®, along with other similar systems, offer something extra for researchers and animal care staff because they enable us to observe activity in real time, and receive e-mail alerts if there are changes in animals movements or cages have problems. There is a benefit for general animal care and behaviour as well as humane end points and scientific results.

What do you think the future holds for these systems?

I think there is a very bright future for Home Cage Monitoring, in fact these systems can offer some huge benefits to the animals, it is a tool that increases our understanding of the behavioural responses of animals to interventions from husbandry routines to the development of a disease model. We can also see changes in activity which can signal pain, distress and possible fighting. All of this means that we can give our animals a much higher quality of care. These systems enable us to have a vast amount of objective data that will lead to more robust and refined study results.

Download the e-poster: “The Use of Home Cage Monitoring To Determine Whether Individual Male Mouse Activity Patterns Correlate with Nest Complexity”