MRC Harwell’s National Mouse Archive has been awarded £100,000 in funding from the Government Office for Technology Transfer through their Knowledge Asset Grant Fund to enable the exploitation of our unique resource of cryopreserved mouse strains for the benefit of the scientific community.
The National Mouse Archive is the only public mouse repository in the UK and is one of the largest mouse archives in the world. It holds about 10,000 public and private strains which are distributed all around the world. The Archive aims to promote a cooperative future in mouse genetics that reduces the number of animals that are used by providing access to existing mouse strains and discouraging researchers from creating a new strain with the same genetic alterations.
We do this by providing a free sperm and embryo cryopreservation service that protects mouse strains for future use and makes all deposited strains available to the community. This has a number of distinct benefits, including removing costs associated with ongoing colony maintenance, minimising the impact of genetic drift by preserving the mouse strain at an early timepoint, and reducing the numbers of animals used. The service also facilitates future scientific discovery by ensuring that mouse strains remain available to the community after the mice have been removed from the shelf at the end of a research project.
The new funding will support the development of the Archive to make it more useful to the scientific community and encourage broader deposition and use. This will be achieved by improving the searchability of the Archive by collating mouse strains into collections that reflect different disease types and areas of interest, updating descriptions of mouse strains, and identifying groups that might be interested in the strains that we hold or in depositing genetically altered lines that have been generated recently.
The Government Office for Technology Transfer Knowledge Assets Grant Fund supports the identification and development of public sector knowledge assets, including repurposing, commercialisation, and expanded use. Since its establishment in 2022, the Government Office for Technology Transfer has awarded £7.4m to more than 65 innovative public sector projects through the grant fund.
According to the latest Home Office figures, 1.25 million procedures were carried out in 2022 for the creation and breeding of genetically altered animals, with mice accounting for 86% of these. In some cases, there might be a need to re-make existing mouse models that have been published, but are not readily available. This represents a source of considerable inefficiency, a poor use of laboratory resources and research budgets, and also conflicts with the drive towards the replacement, reduction, and refinement of the use of animals in research. Improving and expanding the National Mouse Archive will help maximise the impact of the UK’s mouse resources.