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Study to investigate less-invasive fish swabbing technique
The new technique involves gently stroking a swab (sterile cotton bud) along the flanks of the fish whilst the fish is held in a net.

Project to explore ways to improve fish welfare 

A University of Leicester scientist is set to investigate ways to improve the welfare of fish used in scientific research.

Dr William Norton from the University’s Department of Neuroscience aims to test the theory that swabbing has a significantly lower impact on stress-related behaviour and physiology than fin clipping.

“In this project, we will investigate the nature and magnitude of any welfare benefits of swabbing over fin clipping, explained Dr Norton. “Such information is essential to validate the swabbing technique and assure its wider adoption by the growing community of researchers that use fish as laboratory models.”

It is common practice for laboratories to collect DNA samples from fish. It is mostly done to confirm the genetic strain of fish, their population of origin, or whether an individual contains genes that are relevant to the research.

Typically, DNA sampling is performed by fin clipping, an invasive procedure carried out under non-terminal anaesthesia. A recent study found that of the estimated 3,250 zebrafish laboratories worldwide, 85 per cent use fin clipping to collect DNA.

The new technique involves gently stroking a swab (sterile cotton bud) along the flanks of the fish whilst the fish is held in a net. The process takes seconds and researchers have already confirmed that it collects enough DNA for analysis.

“While swabbing appears to be less invasive than fin clipping, it still requires fish to be netted, held in the air and handled; procedures that could potentially cause stress,” Dr Norton continued. “Therefore, the potential of swabbing as a refinement to standard DNA collection by fin clipping remains untested.”

Dr Ioanna Katsiadaki, a principal investigator at Cefas and an expert in the assessment of fish welfare, will collaborate on the project and provide state-of-the-art facilities for the less-invasive measurement of stress hormones released naturally by fish into the water through their gills.
The project, 'Quantifying the potential of skin swabbing as a refinement for DNA sampling of laboratory fish', will be funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research.

Image (C) University of Leicester

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Giraffe Conservation Foundation named BVNA’s charity of the year

News Story 1
 BVNA president Wendy Nevins has named The Giraffe Conservation Foundation as the association’s charity of the year for 2017/2018.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation dedicates its work to a sustainable future for wild giraffe populations. Wendy Nevins said: ‘I have chosen the Giraffe Conservation Foundation for the BVNA Charity of the Year because I have always thought Giraffes were magnificent animals.

‘I also think it is important that we look at the wider issue of conservation and education across all species.’  

News Shorts
Scientists win award for openness in animal research

UK scientists have won an award for the 360ş Laboratory Animal Tours project, which offered the public an online, interactive tour of four research facilities that are usually restricted access.

The project won a public engagement award at the Understanding Animal Research (UAR) Openness Awards, which recognise UK research facilities for transparency on their use of animals in research, as well as innovation in communicating with the public.

The tour was created by the Pirbright Institute, the University of Oxford, the University of Bristol and MRC Harwell Institute.