Update on Guidance for Humane Endpoints in IACUC Protocols
In each IACUC protocol, the researcher is asked to describe their research endpoints, which describes a certain condition that, when reached, warrants humane euthanasia of the research subject. This is typically outlined for specific procedures/surgeries as well as described in the Euthanasia section of the protocol. Common protocol endpoints include weight loss (as a %), ulceration of tumors, mobility challenges, decreased body condition, or other phenotypes that indicate the animals should be removed from practice. It has often been the case that the DLAR veterinary team is called upon to examine animals and allow for animals to remain on study, typically for a short duration, after reaching a given endpoint, to help the animals reach a certain timepoint that the researcher desires. This is a common practice at a variety of institutions as well. Recent Guidance from OLAW clarifies that veterinarians cannot unilaterally extend protocol endpoints, “Because the change in the endpoint may result in greater pain or distress, it constitutes a significant change that requires IACUC review and approval.”
As we transition our veterinary practices within DLAR to be more in line with regulatory expectations, we want to be straightforward about why we are making these changes. Animal’s will no longer be allowed to be kept after reaching pre-described protocol endpoints. Moreover, we implore the research community to accurately describe their protocol endpoints in a manner that prioritizes both animal welfare and expected experimental outcomes and research goals. DLAR vets and IACUC members are willing to assist researchers in guiding to appropriate endpoints.
Director, Research Communications