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Central Animal Laboratory

Prof. Dr. Kurt Reifenberg

In addition to rats, guinea pigs, mastomys, and amphibians, genetically manipulated mice play a crucial role in cancer research.

Members of the Central Animal Laboratory breed and house animals for all Research Groups of the DKFZ. In addition to rats (Rattus norvegicus), guinea pigs (Cavia  porcellus), mastomys  (Mastomys coucha), and amphibians (Xenopus  species), genetically manipulated  mice (Mus musculus), in particular  play a crucial role in cancer research.

A team of Clinical Veterinarians specialized in laboratory animal science is heading the facility. Qualified Animal Technicians working in a team take care of specific animal colonies. Advanced education courses and enhanced in-house training are the basis for optimal qualified Animal Technicians. An intensive and constructive cooperation between Veterinarians, Animal Technicians and Scientists ensure not only the legal requirements with regard to housing, space, temperature, humidity and enrichment etc. but also ensures minimal stress for animals in experimental conditions. For documentation of breeding, a specialized software program is installed to ensure adequate transparency for all concerned.

Not only do the animal welfare regulations require that animals should be free from disease, it is also an important prerequisite for gaining meaningful experimental results. The Specific Pathogen-Free status (SPF) is achieved by housing the animals in special barriers or in individually ventilated cages (IVC). Through close cooperation with Personnel from the Unit Microbiological Diagnostics, the animals are closely monitored. With these control standards, animals with an optimal microbiological quality are provided for research. With regard to importation of animals, there will always be a need for cleaning up mouse strains that are contaminated with undesirable pathogenic microorganisms. This cleaning up process is performed through an embryo transfer system; mouse embryos that are only a few days old are removed from the contaminated donor mother and then transplanted into an SPF hygiene status recipient mother. The mother and her offspring are then maintained in a positive pressure isolator. Following intensive microbiological examination to establish the health status, the offspring can then be transferred to the SPF area of choice.

To mimic genetic changes in human tumors, in cancer research mouse models have been established in inbred strains of a high standardized background; these mouse models carry appropriately mutated genes or gene combinations known as transgene/transgenic or knockout allele(s). In order to check the authenticity of inbred strains, a program for systematic analysis of a panel of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) has been introduced.


German Cancer Research Center

Central Animal Laboratory

Prof. Dr. Kurt Reifenberg (Head of Central Animal Laboratory)

Tel: +49 6221 42 4260


Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg

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