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Cryopreservation is seen as a key aspect of good colony management, which supports the drive towards improvements in animal care and the implementation of the 3Rs. However, following the advent of gene editing technologies, the generation of new rat and mouse models is quicker and cheaper than ever before. This has led some to question the future value of biobanks around the world. In the following commentary we argue that the need to cryopreserve rat and mouse strains and distribute them from well-funded repositories is as strong as it has ever been.
Repositories should not be considered as simply collections of redundant model organisms. Biobanks have a vital role to play in good experimental design. They distribute identical, quality controlled mutant strains to the community and eliminate the need to recreate mice. Archived material provides a check point in the development of new strains of rodents that minimises genetic drift and breeding failures. Cryopreservation also makes resource sharing easier and cheaper, and improves animal care by eliminating the need for live animal shipments. Furthermore, routine cryopreservation of valuable strains protects them from unforeseen events, such as the SARS and COVID-19 pandemics, which were accompanied by the very real prospect of immediate lab closures and/or severe disruption to courier services, rendering live animal shipments non-viable.
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