In my last post, I discussed how you could best avoid human error while working with mice (specifically breeding) to avoid wasting time and frustration. Today, I’ll continue on this topic and discuss marking and documenting your mouse colony, immunizations, and phenotype monitoring.
Marking and Documenting Your Mouse Colony
As with any tube or bottle in the lab, all cages containing mice should be marked with cage cards detailing the name of the researcher, his/her phone number as well as mice strains, number, sex and key information about the experiment conducted. Of course, within the cage you can mark individual mice with an ear puncher (use simple tagging!) or a marker pen for temporary marking.
It’s quite clear that inadequate cage and mice documentation can lead to waste of time, effort and money. However, when so many people work in the same animal housing, mistakes are bound to occur, and the better you document your colony the less the headache you will have when the ‘cage reality’ suddenly doesn’t fit the marking in your notebook. BioData’s web-based laboratory management tool excels in mouse colony management as you can assign different cages (and mice!) to a certain project and update your collection status on the spot using tablets such as an iPad. Did a weaning of litter? No problem, just enter the specific mice collection and press the “update” button. Easy. Your PI will be proud of your organized colony!
The immune system of the mice is a major resource not just for immunologists but also for biochemists and molecular biologists through the use of immunization for antibody production. While monoclonal antibodies have the pros of higher signal/noise and improved reproducibility, it is a specialized methodology that is beyond the reach of most grad students. Thus, immunization of mice rats and rabbits can produce quite a lot of polyclonal antibody (especially the latter two), which can be purified quite easily on protein G or protein A columns. It is important to utilize an efficient adjuvant emulsion such as CFA (Complete Freund's Adjuvant for first immunization) and IFA (Incomplete Freund's Adjuvant for boost immunization). Each of these adjuvants can enable both good response and protection of the protein from blood-borne proteases.
Many immunologists also inject cells, bacteria and viruses to test the efficiency of both active and passive immunizations of their novel therapeutic application. An initial experiment should be utilized to determine the optimal cell count/virus titer required to elicit the best immune response upon which further experiments will be based upon. In certain cases an IFA is required to improve the immune response against the cells/viruses.
Mice are one of the most utilized animal models when it comes to monitoring the effect of our gene/protein/procedure on the physiological conditions of the mouse. They are small and can be easily operated to study different organs post-mortem or being genetically manipulated to generate a phenotype (GFP mice). Whichever method you utilize in your phenotype monitoring, you should employ a good routine documenting system to ease your mice observations. A lab notebook can serve such a cause quite well though BioData’s web-based tool has more of an edge due to it’s technological superiority. The form filling and custom tables in the mice module can be easily filled with observations as well as make it a breeze to expand the table if more data points are required. You can link the table to a certain project or several experiments while sending a message to your PI to check out the latest decrease in tumor size due to the injection of your novel therapeutic protein. Couple these capabilities with a linked calendar which sends you reminders and you have a powerful system that will make sure your in-vivo will not suffer from “human error”.
Have you been frustrated with lack of organization in your animal house? Do you have an idea how to increase the ease of mice immunization and mouse breeding? Share with us here at BioData!