Mouse Drug Screening Core

The mouse drug screening core was established in 2005 in response to a world-wide need for facilities able to conduct standardized, sensitive, and reliable pre-clinical studies in mouse models of muscular dystrophy.  There are outstanding facilities in Bari Italy, and in Lausanne Switzerland, and the Wicker Program has a long history of collaborations with these international sites.  However, a program within the USA was deemed critical, and the Department of Defense and Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne funded the Mouse Drug Screening Core in Washington DC in 2005.

Dr. Kanneboyina Nagaraju directs the facility, with assistance from Drs. Christopher Spurney and Yi-Wen Chen. 

The facility has dedicated mouse handling and procedure rooms, and uses isolator cages, and subcutaneous chips to identify each treated mouse.

Current capacity is 140 cages (700 mice)

Available mouse models include: 

  • Duchenne dystrophy (mdx; mdx/nude immunodeficient)
  • Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy
    • sarcoglycanopathies
    • calpain 3 (LGMD2A)
    • dysferlin (LGMD2B)
  • Emery Dreifuss Muscular dystrophy (emerin, laminin)
  • Inflammatory muscle diseases (MHC class I transgenic mouse model)

Testing methods include:

  • Muscle and motor function tests
    • Live animal
      • Rotarod
      • Treadmill
      • Grip strength
      • Wire hang tes 
  • Isolated mouse muscle: force; contractions and calcium measurements
  • Imaging: Micro-echocardiography for cardiac imaging; Live animal imaging using near infra-red caged substrates; MRI.
  • Behavioral (open field digiscan)
  • Biochemical
    • Hematology (white blood cell count (WBC), red blood cell count (RBC), hemoglobin, hematocrit, red cell indices (MCV, MCH, MCHC), and platelet count)
    • Chemistry (e.g., serum muscle enzymes; such as CPK, AST, ALT, LDH)
  • Histological
    • H&E
    • EM
    • Special stains for muscle histology (Modified Gomori trichrome, Periodic acid-Schiff , Sudan Black, or oil red O, succinic dehydrogenase, NADPH, Acid Phosphatase, cytochrome oxidase, myofibrillar ATPase, )
  • Immunological
    • Immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence (T cells, B cells, Macrophages, dendritic cells, capillaries, complement components, cytokines and other study relevant stains)
    • Autoantibodies
    • Cytokines
    • FACS
  • Genotyping of mouse strains by PCR and Southern blotting

The Facility will run pre-clinical trials for both academic laboratories and private pharmaceutical laboratories.  The Facility and Project personnel can also work with investigators to identify possible funding sources for pre-clinical testing projects.

Please contact Kanneboyina Nagaraju for more information.