The Peira NeuroPlatform is a multichannel, multipurpose sample collection and drug delivery platform for freely moving small laboratory animals on which several sampling and/or infusion devices can be used simultaneously. Those devices are fixed to a rigid support frame. The animal’s home cage sits on a powered turntable, also to prevent having to bring the animal into a novel testing environment thus further reducing stress. Rotation of the tether when the animal turns, is detected by optoelectronic switches, which cause the turntable to turn in the opposite direction taken by the animal. Fluid or electrical swivels are entirely eliminated; the animal experiences almost zero torque or weight on the tether. As the swivel normally limits the number of fluid or electrical connections in traditional systems, eliminating the swivel removes this constraint. Multiple probes, electrodes and blood lines can now be placed in alert, freely moving animals to sample several physiological systems simultaneously.
Center for Human Genetics, Laboratory of Neurogenetics at K.U.Leuven.
Researchers at the Department of Molecular and Developmental Genetics of the K.U.Leuven perform frontline research focused on molecular and cellular mechanisms to address questions relevant to major human health challenges. They use, amongst others, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system to study cellular diversity and specialization of the nervous system. They do that by combining classic molecular genetic and cellular tools, but also by studying the behavior of the flies in response to specific sensory (visual, olfactory, ...) stimuli.
Behavior research mainly relied up till now upon human observations whereby observers watched the flies and described their behavior in semi or non-quantitative data. However, with the advent of high speed imaging camera’s and tracking software, it should be feasible to describe the behavior of the animals in response to changes in their sensory environment much faster, more robust and more quantitatively. For this, we developed FlyWorld.
The solution :
FlyWorld 1.0 is an observation station that allows you to program a series of stimuli by a ‘Stimulus experiment Planner’ and which then tracks the flies in up to 4 dimensions during the experiment. The analysis software quantifies the behavior and presents the results in ‘behavioural’ output features. The hardware of FlyWorld 1.0 consists of a +/- 3.500 cm³ box equipped with one or more high speed CCD cameras. On two sides of the box, LED-screens allow for the introduction of visual stimuli. Colored LED lights can mimic the day/night cycle while Infrared lights are used for recording in the dark. Tubes allow the delivery of olfactory or gustatory stimuli.
FlyWorld 1.0 is a research platform that can be adapted to the needs of the researcher having specific research questions.
In looking to understand the mechanisms of information processing, development and degeneration of the Central Nervous System, researchers need to expose mouse hippocampal tissue slices - positioned on microelectrode arrays (MEAs) - to gas and medium. The problem is that MEA must be manually shaken at regular intervals in order to stimulate cell growth. Such cumbersome interventions are not standardised nor automatically logged on a computer.
The SliceTilter is a platform holding 16 MEAs in which hippocampal slice cultures are placed. The tilting platform allows you to expose the slices to gas and medium respectively in a controlled cycle. To optimize the process, you can set the timing and inclination angles of the platform to different values.
The loading and unloading system of the individual MEAs is designed to be extremely user-friendly. The whole platform is placed in an incubator under a controlled atmosphere where it allows prolonged and enhanced culturing of the organotypic tissue. The corresponding automation significantly improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the experiment.
Central Nervous System researchers organise radial maze experiments when testing contextual memory in animals. Existing set ups are performed in ambient light conditions, thus creating uncontrolled external cues.
The Peira EightMaze is equipped with infrared back lighting and a camera to allow the animal to be tracked in complete darkness. The solution incorporates a hydraulic platform driving a cylinder in which the animal is placed and where it can become accustomed to the new environment, before the test begins.
Peira's custom-made XYZ robot securely is a highly advanced optical imaging tool incorporating proprietary fibre optic objective lens technology. It allows for in vivo imaging of the peripheral nervous system with an accuracy greater than 10 microns.
A major benefit is the contact pressure control system that allows for contact scanning of the object with constant pressure thus minimising deformation of the images taken. Through this automation of the experiment the repeatability and the consistency of the experiment is greatly enhanced.
The Morris Water Maze task is a behavioural task. Existing set-ups do not allow experiments to be conducted in complete darkness, resulting in uncontrolled external stimuli. Existing mazes were also equipped with fixed platforms which resulted in less representative results.
Peira WaterMazes are designed and built with programmable and retractable platforms. The pool walls and base are equipped with infrared LEDs, allowing imaging of the behaviour of the animal in complete darkness.
Screens with switchable cues above the water surface enable you to test the animal's spatial learning capability or its implicit memory.
Measurement of pressure fluctuations lack precision due to reliance on data averages. Efficiency is also hampered by inability to register experimental results simultaneously.
Peira's innovative ICP DataLogger lets you dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your experiments. The easy-to-use representation tool covers a timeframe of a few weeks. Throughput times are reduced by a factor of four thanks to the possibility to concurrently execute up to four experiments at the same time.
Another major advantage of this "simple solution" is that data is registered in real time at intervals of one second, potentially revealing new phenomena and allowing you to monitor pressure fluctuations more precisely. The automatic recording and reporting of data saves time and money, and improves the quality of your experiments.
Scientific researchers have long needed a practical animal holder that is tailored to the specific conditions of the laboratory and which can support their valuable neurological research.
Designed in close collaboration with researchers, Peira’s AnimalHolder fits the specific conditions of the research lab. The tool consists of a polypropylene support with integrated heating, anesthetic and oxygen conduits. A specially designed nozzle in which the animal's head is placed allows for easy and accurate administration of gas flows .
The AnimalHolder can easily be positioned in and removed from the machine's specific accessory insertion tube. The open set-up allows for the rapid exchange of animals and easy accessibility for peripheral instrumentation (ECG electrodes, respiratory monitors, temperature probes etc.). Using this tool gives you important time-savings, a more stable animal and a better quality image capture of the studied phenomena.
In cell culturing, cells have to be kept moist all the time. When performing experiments on cell cultures grown in mini Petri dishes, you have to perfuse the dishes continuously with fluids containing a variety of reagents such as toxins and peptides. As cost is a key issue for all researchers, you naturally want to minimise the consumption of these expensive reagents. Furthermore, capillary effects on the edges of a dish and changes of fluid levels influence the both the quality of the images taken and the experiment itself.
TheArena is a polyacrylate mini reservoir with an engineered micro-fluid flow system. It is placed in the centre of the Petri dish, reducing the volume of the Petri dish to 25% of its original size. This reduces the consumption of reagents while simultaneously improving the quality of the images taken, since capillary effects and fluid level changes are eliminated.