The animal engineering platform aims at generating reporter systems as innovative, non invasive tools to study the activity of endogenous signaling molecules, drugs and toxic compounds directly in living organisms. With the application of a technology developed within the University of Milan, the platform will generate animals for the analysis of the systemic effects of endogenous and exogenous compounds on their respective targets by means of molecular imaging based on bioluminescence, positron emission tomography (PET) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). The platform will conceive and generate reporter animal systems mainly for in vivo imaging applications. The animal models generated will be initially devoted to the identification of the role of intracellular receptors in mammalian physio-pathology and to the screening of drugs active on these receptors. The expertise of the animal platform consists the generation and use of reporter mice systems.
R&D activities and technological services:
Molecular imaging technology based on reporter systems is of major interest in drug research and development because is meant to dramatically streamline preclinical research in:
- drug design, by providing novel model systems where pathophysiological phenomena can be studied and novel drug targets identified;
- drug developmet, by facilitating the identification of new leads and providing a systemic view of the activity on target of new chemical entities, speeding up the identification of drugs pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics, providing a powerful tool for the prediction of organ toxicity, providing a powerful tool for special toxicology analysis (e.g. effects of the drug in lactating pups, in embryos, gender-specificity of action);
- drug delivery, by providing a model system where the activity of the drug on target can be studied in real time
The work of the plaform strives to renew present investigational tools in the respect of animal rights in order to satisfy two conflicting needs
Services provided by the platform will also include:
- generation of novel vectors for multimodality imaging;
- generation of novel algorithms for automated image analysis;
- consulting in the field of molecular imaging and generation of novel systems (animal and cells) for molecular imaging;
- production of reporter cell systems;
- expertise for the maintenance of transgenic animal colonies;
- drug and toxicological screening on the available animal models;
- support services for the development of protocols aimed at the generation of innovative reporter systems.
Mouse & Animal Pathology Lab (MAPLab)
Animal models are one of the most accurate tools to study various human diseases. In vitro approaches are poorly predictive of the behaviour of a complex system like a whole organism. This is why animal models represent an essential step before the knowledge obtained in basic research can be successfully applied to humans. The extraordinary progress in genetic manipulation has recently allowed the development of a large number of animal models, in particular GEM (Genetically Engineered Mice), that enable investigation of the effects of specific genetic changes on the development of precise pathological processes. In this evolving and complex scenario, experimental pathology represents a necessary step for validation of animal models by indicating the potential predictivity of the model towards the human disease. Veterinary (also known as animal or comparative) pathology is the scientific study of morphological changes (lesions) of tissues and organs associated to the animal's diseases. It allows the formulation of diagnosis (morphological, etiological) and prognosis. Moreover, if signature lesions are present experimental pathology aims to generate aetiopathogenetical hypotheses, integrating its judgements with indications supplied by other research areas (genomics, proteomics, epigenetics). In this context, important synergies emerge between experimental pathology and morphofunctional aspects examined by innovative techniques, such as in vivo imaging. Traditional pathology plays a key role in the early validation stages of these novel technologies, ensuring the precision and the accuracy of the findings. Therefore, collaboration between pathology laboratories and other disciplines involved in biomedical research is required. Milan is establishing itself as an important site for the biomedical research community, both on a national and European scale. Many scientific groups from academia, hospitals, public and private research centers and pharmaceutical companies, are interested in the use of animal models to study human diseases. As a consequence, experimental pathology can provide an invaluable scientific contribution to translational research from bench to bedside.
The mission of the Mouse & Animal Pathology Lab (MAPLab) is to perform integrated research and service activities based on veterinary pathology, aimed at studying and using animal models as support for biomedical research. MAPLab aims to offer its services to research groups, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies involved in animal model studies.
Activity of MAPLab
• Training and education:
o graduation theses
o PhD & residency programs
o Seminars and Courses for scientists/technicians working in
the field of experimental pathology
o necropsy of laboratory animals
o histology on animal tissues
o image analysis
o consultancy in the field of veterinary pathology.