National Center for Research Resources
My summary will be very brief because my review will cover the broad range of topics discussed during this ambitious program. We started by addressing the issue of microbiologic testing, and Dr. Shek recommended standardization by constant improvement, rather than setting up a regulatory-based mechanism to achieve microbiologic testing standards. He gave good reasons for doing this, including the continuing recognition of new agents as well as new methods for diagnosis.
Dr. Riley, talking about the standardization of tests, outlined a very exciting program in which they are now engaged in a first phase. This program uses standard specimens to determine the capability or accuracy of individual laboratories and to develop standard operating procedures, which I believe have been needed for a long time. From my perspective, this development is a very positive and important step.
Dr. Itoh then discussed factors that cause a lack of uniformity in results. His discussion was based on encounters in the EQUEST monitoring center with discrepancies between several specific agents such as Pasteurella pneumotropica and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. He recommended that in harmonizing the tests, the methods must be enumerated along with the recommendations for their usefulness.
Dr. Shibahara described laboratories in Japan, which include 53 national university animal centers plus centers in private universities and municipalities and prefectures. He outlined a concern about international transfer of transgenic and knockout mice, which complicates the worldwide situation considerably. He noted that animals rejected for entry into Japanese laboratories because of infec
tions they carried have comprised about 8% of both domestic and international introductions.
Following these presentations were additional discussions on the desirability of the establishment of recommendations by regulatory organizations, rather than just letting standards evolve over time.
Dr. Katiyama pointed out the need to share minimum health profiles and also the importance of requesting reference substances. She compared the agents in the rat serology screens among systems devised by COLASA, Microbiological Associates, and the ICLAS-Asian laboratories in Japan.
In the next session, Dr. Smith talked about emerging and reemerging viruses of laboratory rats and mice, including mouse and rat parvoviruses. She also highlighted mouse hepatitis virus, which has existed a long time but continues to recur and has a high prevalence in many mouse colonies including several I have encountered. The effects of many of these agents are extremely important, not only in causing overt disease but also in modifying the immunologic responses. Of course, their effects on genetically modified animals can be expected to be extremely variable as well.
Dr. Morse addressed the topic of emerging infections. Using the example of hantaviruses, he pointed out the need to avoid complacency, the need for adequate detection and diagnosis, and the importance of recognizing the role of biodiversity. There are indeed zoonoses that still remain to be identified, and animal models will be essential for studying such infectious disease. He recommended that the group take advantage of information DARPA can provide.
Dr. Goto discussed Helicobacter hepaticus detection and elimination using polymerase chain reaction. He also pointed out the most common types of helicobacters, which are important in causing clinical disease in mice in Japan.
Dr. Itoh talked about H. hepaticus as a contaminant of tumor tissues that have been passed in mice and also pointed out how to select tests for new infections. He proposed a five-tiered categorization of agents based on pathogenicity, effects on experimental results, convenience of testing, prevalence, and induction of infection. He made a plea for a testing scheme that is not overly extensive.
This very briefly summarizes the first nine presentations and related discussions.