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Animal Research Facility

The Animal Research Facility located in the ABSL-3 facility of the vivarium in the Saint Louis University Doisy Research Center offers sophisticated equipment for the optical imaging of small animals.

In vivo imaging has become a standard research tool in medical science. Non-invasive in vivo imaging techniques allow researchers to obtain information not available by other methods.

Sequential imaging of the same animal yields valuable insight into the progression of physiological or pathological processes and allows for the reduction in the number of experimental animals needed.

Animal Research Equipment at SLU

The IVIS® Spectrum in vivo imaging system is capable of detecting both luminescent and fluorescent light sources ranging from blue to near-infrared wavelengths using 10 excitation and 18 emission filters. It offers both a planar view (where the light source is registered on the animal’s surface) and a single-view 3-D reconstruction of both fluorescent and luminescent reporters. When used with mice, the latter can be viewed in anatomical context using a digital rendering of internal organs.

Multiple animals (five mice or two rats) can be imaged simultaneously. The intensity of light emission can be quantified in terms of photons/s/cm2/sr, which is an absolute measurement of tissue radiance independent of all camera settings, and can be compared between separate subjects or experiments.

The IVIS Spectrum is connected to the XGI-8 Anesthesia System, which uses isoflurane as an anesthetic agent and is mild enough for repeated daily use in rodents.

Anesthesia gas is supplied to the animals in the imaging chamber through a five-place manifold. Alternatively, the XIC-3 isolation chamber is used to image animals infected with Risk Group 3 (RG3) agents or agents that cause disease in laboratory animals. In both cases, anesthesia gas is scavenged from the chambers and is absorbed into activated charcoal.

Uses for IVIS Spectrum

Researchers who utilize the IVIS Spectrum work in almost all fields of biomedical research. Among other areas, the imaging platform can be used in:

  • Cancer Research: Growth, localization and metastasis of tagged cancer cells can be imaged. Response to treatment is easily followed longitudinally in the same animal throughout the study.
  • Infectious Diseases: The spread of pathogens expressing fluorescent or luminescent reporters can be monitored.
  • Immunology: The activation and migration of various immune cells can be observed.
  • Adoptive Transfer Models: Engraftment of tagged cells can be monitored.

Numerous animal models are commercially available from Caliper and The Jackson Laboratory.

Fee Information

  • Internal Users: $40 per hour
  • External not-for-profit organizations: $60 per hour
  • For-profit organizations: $63 per hour

After initial training, users can operate the imaging apparatus independently. If you are interested in using the equipment, contact Karoly Toth at