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The NC3Rs Produces Grimace Scale Posters

  

In 2012, Dr Jeffrey Mogil and his colleagues at McGill University developed grimace scales that would allow researchers to detect signs of pain in mice and rats during studies. Using funding from the NC3Rs, Dr Matthew Leach at Newcastle University has built on this work. The NC3Rs is now offering grimace scale posters to researchers with the aim of improving animal welfare and overall 3Rs compliance in in vivo testing.

In 2012, Dr Jeffrey Mogil and his colleagues at McGill University developed grimace scales that would allow researchers to detect signs of pain in mice and rats during studies. Using funding from the NC3Rs, Dr Matthew Leach at Newcastle University has built on this work. The NC3Rs is now offering grimace scale posters to researchers with the aim of improving animal welfare and overall 3Rs compliance in in vivo testing.

The Mouse Grimace Scale (MSG) was developed originally using scales from humans, specifically populations that are nonverbal. The scale is described by the researchers as a “coding system”, and works based on the facial expressions of the mice, using movements called “facial action units”. The MSG was noted as being particularly useful for “spontaneous pain of moderate duration”. The 2012 study quantified post-surgical pain using the MSG, and then assessed the effectiveness of different analgesics at different doses.

Dr Matthew Leach started his MSG-based work in 2012, with the aim of working over three years. With his colleagues at Newcastle University, Dr Leach developed a pain assessment scale for rabbits that worked similarly to the existing MSG for mice and rats. They also demonstrated that the facial action units that indicate pain can grow more intense as a result of pain following a procedure, and conducted research on alleviating pain in macaques.

As Dr Leach explains in the video on the NC3Rs site, there are three existing ways of assessing pain in laboratory animals during trials. The first is clinical signs like appearance and behaviour. The downside of this method is that demeanour, behavioural, and appearance changes can take place without pain being a factor. The second method is objective measurements like changes in weight or heart rate. Unfortunately, this method only usually detects pain after 12 to 24 hours using standard technology, so it falls down from a welfare perspective. Finally, researchers can watch for pain-specific behaviours like facial expressions, which is where the MSG scale comes in. Dr Leach and his team set out to find out if the MSG can be put to practical use in assessing post-procedure pain in animals.

Some of the results of Dr Mogil and then Dr Leach’s work are the grimace scale posters produced by the NC3Rs. These posters, which come with instruction manuals, are designed to be hung in facility rooms and corridors in order to teach staff about facial action units and how to read them. The pain scale projects have the potential to improve the welfare of 10 million mice, rats, rabbits, and macaques in laboratory settings worldwide.

This kind of focus on welfare and accurately reading rodent behaviour and comfort is a large part of what drove Actual Analytics to create the ActualHCA system. For more information on our home cage solution, click here or contact us today. To read more about the grimace scale posters, or order one for your facility, read the NC3Rs page here.