HISTORY AND ACTIVITIES
National Centre for Laboratory Animal Sciences (NCLAS) is an unique organization of its kind established in India in 1957, for spreading knowledge on the Care, Breeding, Management and Experimentation using laboratory animals in biomedical research in the country. The organization completed 53 years of its existence, this year.
It started as an unit called Laboratory Animal Information Service (LAIS) at the Indian Cancer Research Centre, Bombay (now called Advanced Centre for Treatment Education and Research in Cancer) way back in 1957 with the help of UNESCO and became a unit of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi in 1959. This unit for the first time undertook a survey on the conditions of laboratory animal care, breeding and experimentation in the country and felt the need for educating the biomedical fraternity on the proper care, breeding and maintenance of laboratory animals. This resulted in the initiation of a regular training course in laboratory animal sciences way back in 1968, and the publication of laboratory animal bulletins, which contained information on the laboratory animals bred, maintained and used for experimentation in various research institutions in the country. This unit was later shifted to National Institute of Nutrition ( NIN ), Hyderabad in 1976, and was expanded to provide animal support to NIN’s nutritional research and also to provide animals to other institutes within the state and it was renamed then as Laboratory Animal Information Service Centre (LAISC). In 1998, during the 7th Five Year Plan additional support came from Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, which helped the unit to reach the current status as the National Center for Laboratory Animal Sciences - NCLAS.
The NCLAS is currently meeting the breeding and experimental needs of over 180 biomedical Institutions in the country. The center consists of four wings: the experimental animal facility, the feed preparation facility, the breeding facility and the primate center. The experimental facility as the name suggests is meant for conducting animal experiments and the feed preparation and breeding facilities take care of breeding and supply of animals and animal feeds. The Primate facility that can maintain 36 rhesus monkeys, was added to the centre 8 years back for basic research and preclinical testing of drugs and vaccine using primates. The center has a staff strength of 60, including 4 scientific staff, 12 technical and administrative staff. Apart from breeding and supply of animals, the Centre regularly undertakes supply of laboratory animal feed (both maintenance and experimental) and check the health and genetic integrity of laboratory animals under its care. It also runs regular training courses annually both at the junior (6 weeks duration) and senior level (3 months duration) for laboratory animal personnel working in government and private biomedical institutions. Apart from this, need based ad-hoc training courses of shorter duration are also offered.
AIMS & OBJECTIVES
- Meet the research needs of the country by breeding and supplying genetically and microbiologically defined laboratory animals.
- Disseminate information on laboratory animal science and technology through human resource development by conducting training programmes, workshops and seminars and through publications.
- Conduct basic research on care, breeding and management of laboratory animals and to develop animal models for biomedical research from existing as well as from the wild genetic pool.
- Act as a national reference center on Laboratory Animal Sciences and act as a liaison between India and other International agencies (WHO, ICLAS .AAALAC)
ACHIEVEMENTS OVER A DECADE
A. SERVICE ACTIVITIES
- On a regular basis, we cater to 45-50 biomedical institutions inclusive of public and private enterprises. The Centre has so far bred and supplied over 1 million laboratory animals to more than 180 biomedical research institutions in the country for basic and applied research.
- Standard laboratory animal chow based on locally available ingredients has been developed for rodents, rabbits and monkeys and it is being supplied regularly to research institutions on request. Also special experimental, diets, as per the requirement like high fat diets, iron and zinc deficient diets etc. were also supplied.
- The center regularly supplies blood and blood products from laboratory animals to several research institutions locally as well as outside the state.
- It has so far trained more than 500 persons on various aspects of laboratory animal care, breeding, husbandry, animal experimentation, and ethics under 2 of its regular annual training courses from 1968. It has also trained over 300 research scientists in the proper use of animals for experimentation under adhoc training programmes over the years.
- It has so far conducted 3 international seminars/workshops and held several national seminars over the years. The Center has brought out 34 volumes of News letter on various aspects of laboratory animal sciences and distributed them on gratis to several research institutes/organizations all over the country. It brought out a publication called Laboratory Animals User’s Guide which is a ready reckoner for the laboratory animal planners and researchers.
- The Centre acted on an advisory capacity in setting up several new animal facilities in the country both under private and government sectors as per CPCSEA and AAALAC norms.
- The center has recently developed 2 mutant obese rat models for basic research in obesity and associated degenerated diseases like diabetes, cataract, infertility, ageing etc. These models have some unique characteristics, which are not seen in similar models available abroad, and currently collaborative studies with Rockefeller University, New York, US, are in progress to identify the gene causing obesity in these animals.
- The center has recently taken the initiative to prepare base line data on clinical biochemical profile along with physiological parameters on various laboratory animals maintained in the center, to supply as a reference material to research workers.
- The center is a member of the Advanced Pre- clinical toxicological research center, which is established at NIN, in 2005, to carry out pre clinical toxicological evaluation of drugs, vaccines, nutroceuticals, genetically modified foods etc for government and private entrepreneurs.
C. FUTURE PROJECTIONS
- The center is going to create an animal behavioral laboratory soon, apart from the existing physiology lab
- Plans are afoot for creating a transgenic and knock out animal facility, meant for research purposes in house as well as outside.
- New research projects are initiated linking obesity with asthma, obesity and iron metabolism, obesogemic diets and their impact on genome, influence of micro flora on obesity, obesity ad nesfatin (the new satiety molecule identified)
A two year postgraduate course on Laboratory Animal Science will be soon launched, probably next year.
Scientific staff working in NCLAS
- Dr. P.Suresh M.V.Sc., F.A.Sc (AW) (Head)
- Dr.N.Harishankar MSc PhD
- Dr.K.Rajender MSc PhD