Advice to investigators on matters related to rodent experimental design, analysis of data and presentation of results including advising new users about how to plan a preclinical study. This service provides the investigator with assistance in designing individual experiments, and providing advice regarding the best animal model to use, routes of administration of experimental drugs and other technical details. In addition, the AMSR provides the investigator with assistance with construction of tumor growth curves, and estimates of tumor doubling times. This service is generally provided in collaboration with the Biostatistics Shared Resource to whom investigators are referred as needed.
Training on the safe and proper use of instrumentation such as anesthesia equipment.
Mentoring of technicians and students. Many of the projects will involve a partnership of AMSR technicians working closely with one or more laboratory staff and/or students throughout the course of the project.
Record keeping and provision of raw data. We maintain records of all manipulations performed and data generated for investigators. Investigators will be provided a copy of all data collected, usually in electronic format.
Research Services available include:
Placement of animal and specialized diet purchase orders: Animal orders can be placed by the AMSR. Special diets also can be ordered through AMSR. For hormone-sensitive cancer studies, we advocate the use of semi-purified AIN93M (maintenance) or AIM93G (growth) diet. Standard diets fed by DCM contain high, but variable levels of phytochemicals shown to reduce tumor initiation and growth in breast cancer models. For some imaging studies a diet free of alfalfa should be considered to avoid auto fluorescence artifact.
Experimental manipulations via diet and drinking water: As specified by the investigators, AMSR staff will administer special diets. Some standard cancer treatments, such as endocrine therapy, are also provided through diet. Further, silencing or overexpressing genes in genetically modified mouse models can be initiated via exposures to, for example, tamoxifen or doxycycline in a diet. Administration and tracking of the use of experimental diets and fluids by the AMSR staff ensures that exposures through diet or drinking water follows approved protocol, and that diets and fluids are stored and handled appropriately.
Colony maintenance: The AMSR technicians can provide ear tagging for rat and mouse weanlings, body weight measurements, and litter weaning services.
Genotyping: AMSR technicians will obtain tail samples from genetically modified and wild-type mice upon request. These samples can then be packaged and sent to Transnetyx if this service is utilized by the investigator, or samples will be delivered to the laboratory.
Administration of carcinogens, therapeutics, hormones, growth factors and other substances: The AMSR staff administers animals with drugs, hormones, or other compounds as required by the study protocol. All procedures are done according to approved experimental protocols, and the expertise of the AMSR staff ensures that data of the highest quality can be obtained. Advice of the route of administration is provided (oral, IP, IV, etc). Some therapies can be given via feed or drinking water (see “Experimental manipulations via diet and drinking water”)
Blood collection: AMSR technicians are skilled at taking blood samples by a variety of routes and will recommend the least invasive route which will provide the volume required.
Tumor monitoring: Tumor measurement data are recorded for investigators in accordance with each experimental protocol. Consistent, expert measurement of tumors by AMSR staff ensures data quality and the maintenance of the data acquired in the AMSR records provides independent backup of the primary data.
Tumor harvest–necropsy and collection of tumors, organs, tissues and blood (sera/plasma): Depending on the experimental protocol, AMSR staff will obtain tumors, blood and other tissues for investigators at the time points requested. AMSR staff consults and coordinates with the Histopathology and Tissue Shared Resource (HTSR) staff to ensure the optimal harvesting and subsequent handling of all the materials (e.g., storage in freezer versus refrigerator; processing tissues for formalin embedded blocks, etc.).
Surgical procedures: AMSR provides investigators with a variety of surgical services including orchiectomy, ovariectomy, splenectomy, skin grafting, orthotopic tumor implantation, mini osmotic pump implantation, and sustained-release pellet implantation. Other more complex surgical techniques can also be performed as needed. These services provide investigators with the ability to access complex surgical interventions that they may not have the skills to conduct themselves. Microsurgical instruments and assorted surgical supplies (e.g., anesthetic devices, animal balances and anesthetics) are available from the AMSR on request, facilitating investigator access to specialized equipment.
Inoculation of tumor cells and PDX into mice and rats: The AMSR technicians are trained to perform subcutaneous (SC), intramuscular (IM), intravenous (IV), intratumor (IT), intraperitoneal (IP), and intracardiac (IC) inoculations of tumor cells. In addition, tumor debulking, splenectomy (to modify immune environment), and tumor cell subcapsular renal implantation are performed. The cancer cells to be used are provided by the investigator, and must be tested and shown to be free of specific rodent pathogens before introduction into animals.
Routine health examinations: All animals are housed in the DCM and examined at least once daily by the DCM staff. If more frequent or specific health monitoring is required, as outline during review of study plans, AMSR staff will provide the examination. If needed, animals are treated by our staff as recommended by a DCM veterinarian.