UW News

June 20, 2024

Changes to WaNPRC protocols, procedures following recent incidents

UW News

The University of Washington’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) was informed on Thursday of recent incidents at the Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC), which have prompted changes to protocols and procedures to ensure high standards of animal welfare and research integrity.

  1. Pausing of incoming shipments – As of May, incoming shipments of non-human primates were paused after an April 25 shipment of four geriatric pig-tail macaques raised compliance concerns. Issues included unlisted source institutions, prior surgery on an animal that was not described in protocols, and non-compliance with shipping standard operating procedures. These concerns prompted a thorough review by a high-level animal care leadership team. Immediate actions included halting shipments, enhancing standard operating procedures with better documentation and real-time monitoring, and clarifying primary investigator protocol approval requirements. Despite procedural issues, the transport care was adequate. One geriatric macaque was euthanized due to health condition and decline after arrival. Veterinary staff were not able to identify any evidence that the shipping caused the animal’s condition.
  2. Water withholding incident (November 2022): An animal inadvertently had water withheld for over 24 hours and improvements were made in water provision documentation. This was reported to the IACUC at the time of the initial occurrence. The animal later developed acute interstitial nephritis. We cannot definitively say that withholding water in 2022 directly caused this animal’s chronic kidney pathology but felt that it was important to notify the IACUC of the animal’s current condition. The animal remains on ad-lib water to prevent further complications.
  3. Intracranial injection complications (August 2023): A 22-year-old macaque experienced complications during intracranial injections. Upon recovery from the procedure the animal was treated for a grand mal seizure and partial paralysis. After a recovery period the animal was approved for a second surgery which was performed without incident, but the macaque did not revive from anesthesia and was euthanized. Necropsy revealed significant hemorrhage likely secondary to the injections. This was consistent with the IACUC protocol, identifying bleeding as a potential rare risk of the procedure. These incidents were reported to the attending veterinarian by WaNPRC veterinary staff in May 2024. It is unclear why there was a delay in reporting this incident to the IACUC or the attending veterinarian, who acknowledged that the complications and severity of the outcome from the first procedure warranted immediate notification to the IACUC.

The UW is committed to transparency and accountability in the use and care of animals for academic research, and is developing clearer guidelines, enhancing oversight, and continually evaluating practices to ensure compliance and animal welfare. The IACUC was apprised of these incidents, and they will continue to be updated as other investigations proceed. Each of these incidents has been reported to the appropriate regulatory authorities.

The Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) is dedicated to advancing scientific knowledge while ensuring the ethical and humane treatment of non-human primates in research. Our mission is to foster innovative research and maintain the highest standards of animal welfare.

For more information about the Animal Care Program at the UW, visit the Animal Care, Outreach, and 3Rs Program (ACO3Rs) website.