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Functional investigations

Biologie moléculaire et production virale

This platform can be used to develop relevant animal models for diseases, particularly those involving the administration of viral vectors according to experimental procedures (anesthesia, recovery etc.) validated in nonhuman primates and rodents (rats, mice). Also to test new treatments based on the injection of viral vectors or cell grafts. This platform also offers a battery of motor and cognitive tests for rodents and nonhuman primates. These tests can be used to validate animal models of human diseases and evaluate the efficacy of new treatments.

Published on 28 September 2021

Neurosurgery (stereotactic surgery)

The platform is equipped with two neurosurgery rooms (brain and spinal cord surgery), one of biosafety level 2 and the other of biosafety level 3. These rooms are equipped with everything required for sophisticated experimental neurosurgery: stereotactic frames, a neuronavigation system, surgical microscopes, injection pumps, gaseous anesthesia systems and monitoring systems.

General surgery

Two equipped general surgery rooms with interventional imaging systems are specialized for visceral and cardiovascular surgery. These cells are also used for classical surgery (implantation of catheters or telemetric measurement devices, sampling) and veterinary interventions. They can hold an entire surgical team, together with the specific equipment required for the projects run by external teams selected by the CRC MIRCen. The work of these nonresident teams must conform to ethical rules and good practice. Veterinary and surgical logistic support is provided by the staff of the platform.

Neurosurgery room

In rodents

The platform allows the study of various aspects of rodent behaviour, in 6 testing rooms exclusively dedicated to either rats or mice.
Motor performances are evaluated using different devices that are dedicated to the evaluation of spontaneous (open field, Catwalk) or forced locomotion (beam test, rotarod).
Anxiety can be estimated in the open field, the elevated plus maze or with the marble test.
Activity boxes are used to determine spontaneous locomotion activity fluctuations during the circadian cycle.
Learning and memory (particularly in the context of Alzheimer and Huntington diseases) are estimated with the Morris water maze, fear conditioning, object recognition or spontaneous alternation in the Y maze.
For most tests, we use the Ethovision XT software (Noldus).

Behavior test on rodents (Crédit : MIRCen/CEA)

In non-human primates

MIRCen’s primate behavioral platform is dedicated to the investigation of motor and cognitive function in non-human primates in biosafety levels 1, 2 and 3. The platform counts with 3 rooms equipped with custom-made video chambers that are exclusively dedicated to explore motor behavior.
Primates are filmed using the Media Recorder© software (Noldus) and videos are analyzed offline with specialized Noldus softwares, Ethovision XT for the automatic quantification of locomotor activity and The Observer XT for the quantification of abnormal involuntary movements both in healthy and diseased states. Subtle deficits in fine motor movements of the hand can also be evaluated offline either in testing boxes or in primate chairs.
Cognitive behavior is mainly, but not exclusively, tested on tactile screens. The platform is equipped with 3 soundproof boxes where primates can perform tests in isolated working stations. Alternatively, we have developed an identification system by which primates can work on tactile screens in their home cages in social groups, each performing its own testing battery.
Custom-made software for tactile screens has been developed in-house and allows the incorporation of tailored tests into the standard battery according to the requirements of each experimental protocol. The monkey version of the CANTAB testing battery is equally available on-site. A Wisconsin General Testing Apparatus is available for cognitive tests that are not performed on tactile screens. Primates are filmed during each working session in order to facilitate the off-line analysis of individual performances.