Laboratory Mouse Identification and Inventory Control

Period of Performance: 06/01/2008 - 05/31/2009


Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Muse Technologies, Inc.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The laboratory mouse is an essential experimental resource for modern biomedical research. The National Institutes of Health supports intramural and extramural research on hundreds of strains of mice and millions of individual animals each year. The cost of mouse breeding and maintenance is a major component of many research programs and surpasses $40 million annually. Consequently, improvements in the efficiency of maintaining research mice are especially valuable to NIH, since they can provide recurring cost savings across many individual research efforts. Mouse identification and inventory control systems have not advanced to meet the existing demand. As a result, mice are often used inefficiently, with excess animals purchased, bred, housed, and treated unnecessarily. Of equal importance, undocumented, lost, or incorrectly identified animals can compromise valuable experiments. The Phase II STTR proposed work will produce a low-cost, integrated inventory system for the continuous, automated monitoring of individual research mice. Existing inventory control systems in retail stores, hospitals, and shipping firms readily track individual units in complex, dynamic environments. Consequently, an extensive engineering infrastructure for inventory system are readily available. The project will adapt components of existing inventory systems and develop novel technologies to the unique challenges of mouse identification, inventory, and maintenance. Working from successful prototypes developed in the STTR Phase I, a complete commercial system will be produced that satisfies the requirements of mouse housing facilities, animal-handling staff, veterinarians, and research investigators. The Specific Aims detail the four primary engineering components to be developed for the system: (1) permanent, inexpensive radio-frequency identification labels for individual animals; (2) radio-frequency automated readers that are compatible with animal handling environments; (3) tools for the rapid and humane attachment of labels onto individual mice; and (4) an inventory database and query structure compatible with the needs of animal facilities, veterinarians, and research investigators. The components will be developed in the context of both modeled and actual mouse handling environments, allowing rapid prototyping and trouble-shooting. The complete, integrated system will be extensively tested in locally- available mouse room facilities. Following testing, the inventory control system will be manufactured and sold to animal breeding and housing facilities, as well as to individual scientific research groups. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Laboratory animals serve as critical models of human health and disease in NIH research. The quality and efficient management of animal research influences programs across many NIH Institutes and Centers. Improvements in animal inventory are essential for the control and refinement of mouse research costs, as well as minimizing the number of animals that are produced and maintained.