The Animal Facility and Experimental Operations section has over 700 m2 of useful surface area designed for research and teaching. It is situated on the (-1) floor of the BioDonostia HRI. It has three work areas: a barrier area, an experimental operations area and a stabling area. In those areas, the groups of animals are kept in conditions of high biological safety, with strictly controlled health and environmental parameters. Colonies of rabbits, rats, mice, and especially transgenic mouse models, are kept here.
The facility aims to be flexible and offer a solution to the problems facing the researchers, and was designed to be able to work with small, medium and large animals (mice, rats, rabbits and pigs), providing its users with technical advice regarding the test animals and their environment, and making sure existing legislation and regulations on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes are met.
To endorse the BioDonostia HRI’s philosophy, we needed to go through the process of registering on the list of breeding centres, suppliers and users of test animals, having already been registered as an establishment that uses test animals (200690050419). We also obtained the notification of first use of premises to carry out contained use operations with genetically modified organisms (GMO) and the risk assessment of contained use operations with GMO for type I premises.
The BioDonostia HRI animal facility provides support to the areas of research and teaching as regards the use of animals for those purposes, both for internal and external users.
The Platform’s objectives are as follows:
- To provide researchers with the general infrastructure to carry out experimental studies with animals.
- To keep the animals used in experimental procedures in appropriate conditions of health and well-being, as well as providing the necessary care and accommodation.
- To offer specialised advice on the design of experimental procedures, the choice of animal model, surgical techniques, etc.
- To offer support in the performance of different experimental techniques.
- To safeguard the animals’ well-being and to ensure the experimental design is in line with existing regulations and guidelines.
- To ensure compliance with existing regulations on the protection of animals used for experimental purposes.
- To watch over and support the most suitable preparation and training of experimenters/researchers.
- To study, research and develop animal models.
a. Animal care
c. Performance of procedures
d. Design of projects and procedures
e. Animal welfare and care supervisor
f. Designed veterinarian
The platform is divided into three main areas:
- Barrier area for rodents (P2): it has three rooms with positive pressure and one room with negative pressure for procedures with infectious material. It is equipped with two Biosafety hoods and has a maximum capacity of 576 cages on ventilated racks. All the rooms have an inhalation anaesthesia unit and a fully-equipped procedures table.
- Stabling area: this area houses mice, rats, rabbits and pigs in different rooms. It is equipped with two quarantine rooms with an SAS pass-through facility in each. It also has a multi-mode room for short-term procedures using a high number of animals, with a capacity for 60 rat cages and 144 mice cages. This area is also equipped with a work table fitted with precision scales and inhalation anaesthesia equipment. The maximum capacity in this area is for 180 rat cages on ventilated racks and 504 mice cages on ventilated racks. The maximum housing capacity for rabbits would be 36 males and 72 females. In the case of pigs, it would be 16 animals.
- Procedures and operating area:
- Operating area: this is the room in which the research staff and doctors from the Donostia University Hospital are trained, along with the design and preparation of animal models. This room also has structural characteristics that enable it to be used for holding teaching workshops in the different disciplines necessary to ensure an appropriate handling of experimentation animals. It, in turn, has two areas:
- Procedures and operating room for rodents: this area is equipped with seven surgical microscopes, an optical microscope, a safety hood for chemical reactives use, a refrigerated centrifuge and an inhalation anaesthesia tower connected to all work stations. This area also houses a behaviour room equipped with rotameters, treadmill, Grip Strength and compulsive behaviour testing equipment.
- Experimental operating room for medium (rabbit) and large animals (pig): the room has two anaesthesia tables, two high-resolution laparoscopy towers, a scopic and graphic X-ray arch, and two surgical microscopes. This is the area in which training is carried out in the different services offered at the Donostia University Hospital, and also where surgical research projects are carried out on medium-sized and large animals.
RESERVING A ROOM
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ANIMAL FACILITY REGULATIONS
Access to the animal facility and experimental operations area is only granted if you have the appropriate credentials for using and handling experimentation animals.
- Changing food.
- Changing sawdust.
- Changing water.
- Cleaning cages.
- Colony control.
- Sterilising cages.
- Sterilising feeding bottles.
- Sterilising racks.
- Administration of substances:
- Anaesthetic gas.
- Animal euthanasia:
- Animal model design.
- Assintance in operations.
- Bile collection.
- Carbon dioxide.
- Cardiotoxin injection.
- Colony management.
- Distraction osteogenesis.
- Experiment advice.
- Experiment design.
- Extraction of embryos.
- Extraction of material for genotypes.
- Extraction of samples:
- Extraction of muscle.
- Extraction of neurospheres.
- Extraction of retina-eyes.
- Extraction of skin.
- Extraction of blood:
- Gestational diagnosis.
- Hipospadias model.
- Identification of animals/microchips.
- Orthotopic model of pancreatic cancer.
- Placement of stems.
- Regulated platform operation UNE-EN ISO 10993-1.
- Surgical operations.
- Tumor injection.
- Tumour measurement.
- Wound care.
This area includes the continuous training courses given for staff from the BioDonostia HRI, the Donostia University Hospital and external staff. The purpose of this section is to facilitate learning and the development of skills and knowledge about animal models and phantoms. Due to its structural characteristics, it offers the following possibilities:
- Design of personalised learning programmes.
- Organisation of courses or events related to medical sciences.
- Development of surgical research projects.
- Learning and teaching of new non-invasive techniques.
- Learning of micro-surgery techniques.
- Development of new surgical techniques to replace older versions.
Advice on procedures/projects
The platform has qualified personnel with sufficient training as required by the [Spanish] Royal Decree 53/2013 of 1 February 2013 to provide methodological and scientific support in the design and development of type I, II and III experimental projects and procedures.
More recently, [Spanish] Royal Decree 118/2021, of 24 February, amending Royal Decree 53/2013, of 1 February, establishing the basic rules applicable to the protection of animals used in experimentation and other scientific purposes, including teaching, has been published.
Royal Decree 53/2013 of 1 February is amended as follows:
- Article 34.2(e).
- Article 36.
- Article 41.4
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Animal experimentation ethics committee (AEEC)
Research projects that require animal experimentation may have ethical implications that must be assessed by ethics committees. The committees’ objective is to safeguard the animals’ well-being and to ensure the experiments’ design is in line with existing regulations, collaborating with the researchers in the analysis of the projects’ ethical implications, and issuing reports wherever necessary.
MEMBERS OF THE BIODONOSTIA HRI ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION ETHICS COMMITTEE
- Dra. María Muñoz Caffarel: Chairperson.
- Dra. Elizabeth Hijona Muruamendiaraz: Secretary.
- D. Pablo Aldazabal Amas: Member.
- Dra. Sonia Alonso Martín: Member.
- Dra. Noelia Álvarez Luque: Member.
- Dra. Estefanía Carrasco García: Member.
- Dr. Héctor Lafuente Echevarria: Member.
- Dra. María Jesús Perugorria Montiel: Member.
- Dr. Carlos San José Marqués: Member.
- Dra. Cristina Sarasqueta Eizaguirre: Member.
NOTE: All experimental projects that involve the use of animals must be authorised by the Competent Authority. To obtain said authorisation, the project’s Head Researcher must submit the research project before the Competent Authority, along with the Ethics Committee favourable report, a non-scientific summary of the project and a copy of the application for the project to be assessed by the Authorised Body (AB).
Flow chart AEEC & AB.
In order for the Ethics Committee to issue a project report, the Competent Authority project application form must be filled in and sent to email@example.com.
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