Animal work is tricky business. First and foremost, it is expensive. It requires dedicated facilities. It also requires staff with expertise in colony management, animal handling, and small animal surgeries. Animal models need to be relevant to human disease, and it takes experience to know which animal models most accurately recapitulate human disease. When it comes to animal work, experience pays for itself several times over.
Many companies choose to outsource their preclinical animal studies to a specialized contract research organization (CRO). CROs offer several advantages where in vivo studies are concerned, the overarching one being efficiency.
Most often, CROs that offer animal models for preclinical studies are specialized in one or two focus areas. For example, the CRO might specialize in models of eye disease, or neurological disease. This means that they have already invested the time and resources to establish working animal models that are acceptable for pharmacological studies. Once experiments are planned, CROs can move fast to allocate the requisite amount of space in their animal facilities and assign technical staff to carry out designated experiments. Once experiments are underway, CROs bring specialized equipment and technical expertise to the table: from in vivo imaging modalities, to histological preparations and toxicology screens.
In addition to their physical resources and technical personnel, CROs specializing in animal models offer another advantage: they know how to navigate animal protocol reviews. All of this planning, from experimental design to colony management and protocol approval, is precious “start up” time and energy that the client doesn’t have to invest.
The established animal colonies and centralized expertise found at contract research organizations typically mean that studies get off the ground quickly. The quicker a client’s experiments are approved and underway, the quicker they get results. And all of that is time, and money, saved.
 S. Pritt. Working with Contract Research Organizations. ALN Magazine. May 1, 2008. http://www.alnmag.com/article/working-contract-research-organizations