Where did this field of “transgenic” science begin? The term transgenic, which denotes an organism containing genetic material that was artificially transferred from another species, was first used in the early eighties by J.W. Gordon and F.H. Ruddle, now considered the pioneers of mammalian gene transfer research. While previous work completed by Rudolf Jaenisch and Beatrice Mintz in 1974 had shown that mouse embryos infected with the SV40 virus could integrate this viral DNA into the germ line, Gordon and Ruddle were the first to create a truly “transgenic” mouse where foreign genes were successfully inserted into the genome, and furthermore, these genes were transmitted to their offspring (check out the seminal papers published in PNAS (1980) and Science (1981) for more information). In an interview with The New York Times in 1988, Ruddle describes one of the many reasons this discovery was considered so ground-breaking: “One of the wonderful things about transgenesis is that we can do all at once what evolution has taken millions of years to do.”
Colony management and ethical animal testing
So why introduce the origins of transgenics? The experimental successes that followed the first transgenic mouse has led to the widespread use of transgenics throughout research facilities across the world. Which has increased the number of animals used in research. And as a consequence, this has in turn necessitated the creation of tracking methods, or data management systems to increase efficiency and productivity in the management of mouselines, breeding schemes, and mouse related experiments.
While there are countless breakthroughs that would not have been possible without the discovery by Gordon and Ruddle, the scientific community must also remain vigilant about the ethical use of research animals. Guiding principles for the ethical use of animals in testing were first described in 1959 by Russell and Burch (the three Rs): replacement, reduction, and refinement. While these principles cover a broad range of topics related to animal testing, I bring them up to highlight the principle of reduction: effective data management is critical for ensuring that only the necessary animals are used for each study, and none are wasted.
Despite this paramount importance of data management, however, many are still tracking using handwritten notebooks or “simple” spreadsheets to track mouse colonies, and complicated (or even simple) breeding schemes! In other words, we are left with researchers using current, cutting edge scientific techniques with an ancient, ‘ad hoc’ approach to data management (at least with respect to colony management). (these spreadsheets are also inherently error-prone, but that is a topic for another day ...).
A brief history of BreedingServices.com. Who are we?
So why do I bring up the management of mouse colonies? And perhaps more importantly, who are we? In this introductory post of this blog, I’d like to briefly introduce you to BreedingServices.com, a cloud-based breeding and colony management program designed for academic researchers, animal technicians, breeding cores and other laboratories to increase efficiency and productivity in the management of mouse and rat lines. Ultimately, the goal is to replace these error-prone spreadsheets with an easy-to-use database that allows for more streamlined data, and perhaps most importantly, better cost management.
In a similar way to how these “simple” spreadsheets have been forced to evolve over the years (perhaps unsuccessfully, leaving users unsatisfied but without an alternative option?), BreedingServices.com's advanced cloud services have been evolving since their inception to keep up to date with current information technology, scientific trends, laboratory and breeding core requirements. BreedingServices.com PREMIUM and INDIVIDUAL Clouds services are continually upgraded based on user’s feedback and requirements.
Why have we decided to write Research Matters articles?
Simply put: because we love science. And science is not merely the act of performing experiments, and pushing along research, but conveying that information to the scientific community at large, and furthermore, to the general population. I firmly believe that educating the world about research is equally as important as actually doing the science. And in a perfect world, all scientific research would progress flawlessly, with no time lost due to human error, repetitive tasks, or lost reagents (or worse, lost mice!). As a recent PhD graduate, I will readily admit that I am science-obsessed, and always will be. I am also fully aware that we do not live in a perfect world, and scientific research never (and I repeat, never) progresses flawlessly. And as contributor to this blog, my goal is to convey my enthusiasm, as well as the enthusiasm of the creators of SoftMouse, for exciting scientific research, particularly with respect to mice and transgenic research, to those interested in furthering their knowledge. Finally, we hope to convey how important efficient colony management is, and how to improve your data tracking (and limit your despair over preventable errors).
Read more Research Matters articles.
Something you’ve always wondered about, but never had a chance to look into? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you please Contact us. We also invite you to learn more about BreedingServices.com. If you’d like to learn more about BreedingServices.com PREMIUM and INDIVIDUAL Clouds please visit this page.