Università di Ferrara - Tecnopolo Universtità di Ferrara Universtità di Ferrara
 

     
 

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Areas of expertise

The Animal Facility research group has many years of expertise in the field of pre-clinical biomedical research on mouse and rat animal models (our numerous publications in international scientific journals are listed in the Publications section), particularly for neurodegenerative diseases. Our technical and scientific expertise can help design studies aimed at evaluating the effects of various advanced treatments (molecules, cells). These studies may be conducted ex vivo (in primary cultures) and/or in vivo (after treatment using various administration routes - i.p., i.v. or i.c.v.).

We carry out studies on gene and protein expression, and evaluation of cell proliferation and death. Moreover, our unit has technical and scientific expertise in in vivo brain microdialysis. In neurodegenerative disease research, microdialysis offers the possibility of evaluating the neurochemical counterpart of various behaviour patterns secondary to an illness or drug treatment. In particular, this technique allows evaluating the levels of extracellular neurotransmitters (e.g. dopamine, acetylcholine, glutamate and GABA) and other endogenous compounds in specific brain areas.

Our unit currently comprises the housing room and some laboratories of the Pharmacology department where we are able to conduct projects involving a limited number of animals (rats and mice). One of the laboratories is used for in vivo models, with two stereotaxic units for brain surgery procedures; the other laboratory has microtome and cryostat equipment for cutting histological sections which are used for all the colorimetric, immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry assays, cell degeneration assays, and in situ hybridisation for detecting levels of expression of specific mRNAs. After histological sections have been viewed under the microscope, the images can be analysed. We also have a laboratory equipped for performing implantation surgery of brain dialysis probes (mice and rats) and for obtaining samples from freely-moving animals; a further laboratory is used for assaying neurotransmitters and/or substances derived from brain dialysate.

The primary purpose of the Animal Facility service is to support companies and research institutions by having available an area for raising and caring for small animals (rodents such as rats, mice and guinea pigs, even rabbits), in order to offer suitably equipped laboratories to perform the surgical procedures necessary for preparing animal models of disease, and for in vitro and/or in vivo preclinical experiments. In particular, the research objectives are geared towards numerous problems in the neurological, cardiovascular and haemato-oncological fields in collaboration with other services of the LTTA. The Animal Facility is a valuable resource for researchers engaged in various types of projects involving animal models, especially in studies that involve the use of genetically modified animals.

In the field of advanced therapies, the in vivo preclinical studies stage is of fundamental importance. This is how the Animal Facility came about, to house, look after and rear laboratory animals for experimental purposes, in premises designed and built to the highest standards.

The service currently uses some laboratories in the Pharmacology section, and is involved in evaluating the therapeutic and cellular effects of drug treatments in animal models of disease, using a number of different methods of administration (intraperitoneal, intravenous, intracerebroventricular) and in primary ex vivo cultures, offering the evaluation of different parameters such as:

  • phenotypic cell markers;
  • cellular proliferation, after in vivo labelling with BrdU;
  • cell degeneration (stainings such as Fluoro-Jade, Propidium Iodide, Silver Staining, Hoechst 33342);
  • protein expression of specific antigens through immunohistochemical and immunofluorescence assays on cell cultures, primary cultures and histological sections;
  • genic expression by in situ hybridization and quantitative PCR;
  • measurement of neurotransmitter levels and other biological markers in the brain;
  • laser microdissection of cells or group of cells for genomic, trascriptomic and proteomic analysis.

In addition to the rearing and care of some colonies of transgenic and knockout mice, the staff works in the characterization of new models of neurodegenerative diseases, in the study of the effects of cell therapies in models of epilepsy and in preparing primary neuron, astrocyte and microglia cultures from wild-type and genetically modified animals. Regarding the process of standardisation of protocols to verify the therapeutic properties of new molecules in Alzheimer’s disease, an in vivo experimental model has been developed and optimised for performing microdialysis experiments in wild-type and transgenic mice (Tg2576, overexpressing the human β amyloid precursor protein, AβPP).

Details of the basic services can be found in the attached price list. Services may be modified in accordance with the requirements of individual companies/researchers on request.

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ASTER Por-Fesr Universtità di Ferrara