I am going to make some mice ill with arthritis. The medicine which I am testing as control is known to cause extreme fatigue. I think I've improved it. I'd like to humanly measure their stamina in the presence of something like morphine. How would I ethically do this?
I believe the standard is an graded-speed treadmill test. An example pub:
If there is a particular ethical concern, you should always have your institutional review panel review it. If you call up your department of animal resources (or what ever it is called in your institution) they will almost always give lists of preferred LOPs.
Another option would be to score time sleeping if you have them under behavioral surveillance. The problem with this is the large amount of man hours needed, even watching tapes at high speed. Instead I recommend you check this paper out:
Then to get accurate scoring, I would put a strongly colored bedding pad in a corner so the computer could pick it up. Be sure to put the bedding in at least a week before so the mice get used to it and actually sleep on it.
If the mice will be incapable of walking on a treadmill, which suggests that they will be very ill, you could just measure their homecage activity. There is some normal, baseline level of activity in a cage. You could compare controls to placebos to experimentals. If the drug you are testing increases homecage activity, then it would appear to be effective. Xie et al. describe a fairly comprehensive system.
Here is one example. Basically it is a very sensitive, 4-post scale that is designed to determine in xy space when the mouse is in the cage.