In a bid to improve the lives of laboratory animals used in developing pharmaceuticals and lift the quality of medical research in Taiwan, the National Laboratory Animal Center (NLAC) has set up a new team to help laboratories obtain accreditation by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, International (AAALAC).

Chang Wei-jeng (張維政), a research fellow at the NLAC, said that with a high rate of cardiovascular disease – in the U.S. someone has a heart attack each 34 seconds – there is a need to continue developing new medicine and animal testing plays an important role in the creation of new drugs.

Chang said some research centers in Taiwan only focus on running low-cost operations and do not care about improving their animal testing facilities. He adds that this leads to low-quality experiments and subsequently medicines fail to be brought to market.

According to Chang, more than 200 applied animal science institutes are accredited by the Council of Agriculture in Taiwan, but only 15 are certificated by AAALAC. He said that most of these organizations lack funds, making it difficult to maintain adequate facilities and hire sufficient vets to take proper care of animals.

Liang Chung-tiang (梁鍾鼎), a veterinary pathologist, says laboratory animals should be offered high-nutrition feed. Moreover, the living environment should be at controlled temperatures and vets should assess the status of animals regularly. This would reduce errors in testing.

Liang also maintains that in the U.S., a laboratory using animal testing has to get certification from AAALAC in order to introduce their drugs to the market. Taiwan’s institutions should therefore be accredited by AAALAC.

The NLAC says its team can complete the process within a few months, and has worked with institutions including the National Defense Medical Center, Laboratory Animal Center of National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, and the Livestock Research Institute in Taitung. The team is currently helping the Laboratory Animals Center at National Taiwan University.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole