The concept of standardization in the field of research with laboratory animals is today a cause of controversy between different schools of scientific thought.
Although this discussion may appear to be of recent origin to some, it was born almost a century ago when James Reyniers began to imagine the technical solutions for obtaining, maintaining and using germ-free animals. Reyniers and Trexler were not looking for an animal model but instead wanted to make “tools for the job”. Technology and biology working together to achieve standardization.
The development of “Micrurgical Systems” (micrurgy being the manipulation of micro-objects) was an attempt to standardize all the necessary instruments and research techniques. A single “micrurgical system” to replace locally produced instruments to obtain : standardization through mechanization.
Simplicity, utility, reliability and affordability were the inspiring principles of Reyners which were subsequently enhanced by Trexler with the development of flexible film isolators.
It may seem paradoxical but for the engineers of that time it was much more complex to build the isolators of the micrurgical system.
Since then, isolators, in particular those with flexible film developed by Trexler, have spread worldwide and still represent a valid housing system for germ-free laboratory models. But technological development never stops and alongside the isolators the technology of Individually Ventilated cages (IVC) has entered the field of housing germ-free mice solving some problems related to the use of Reyners and Trexler technology..
Reading Robert G. W. Kirk’s article means understanding the extraordinary difficulties, the frustrations but also the joys experienced by Reyners and Trexler during the creation of a technology that changed the world of research and laid the foundations for opening new horizons
Robert G W Kirk .”Standardization Through Mechanization”. Germ-free Life and the Engineering of the Ideal Laboratory Animal . Technol.Cult.2012 January; 53(1):61-93
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