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One of the most important expert on home cage monitoring and moderator of an interesting and successful seminar at FELASA titled “Better research through better reporting and reproducibility”

DVC®, the Digital Ventilated Cage system from Tecniplast, the best Home cage monitoring system on the market, has been one of the most important attraction at the recent Felasa Conference in Prague.

Dr Hasenau, taking inspiration from the presentations at your Seminar, what are some current challenges in animal experiments that automated cage monitoring can help address?

  • Reproducibility.
  • Animal handling.
  • Environment-related disturbances.
  • Unknown animal status right before performing tests outside home cage.
  • Having in-cage data without subjective basis from technician observations.
  • Obtaining data at times when animals are at their peak activity levels.
  • Several tests are performed from operators which are individual with different subjective judgments etc…

How do these study results showcase the digital individually ventilated cage system? (ie, how do the results show this technology can improve animal experiments?)

  • Long term non-intrusive monitoring; data otherwise not available.
  • Massive data collection. Presentations showed that have been observed similar and repetitive strain-related activity patterns in multicentric studies, but still observed differences. DVC® can potentially be used to better understand differences across sites.

Presentations suggested there’s a broader implication of a complete lack of fully understanding animal behavior data in general. Can you elaborate on this bigger issue?

  • A vast amount of behavior can be captured from spontaneous animal activity.
  • Mice are active during night time but on the other side most of the test are performed during daytime (unless circadian rhythm is reversed) with all implications.
  • Many of the current phenotyping analysis requires animal removal from home environments which impacts animal’s behavior and may basis some of the data results.

What types of research could benefit from automated cage monitoring?

In general, all research that is interested in animal locomotion, ranging from neuroscience to oncology.

Can you talk a bit about the data component and the software toolbox developed for DVC and explained at the Seminar? How computational demanding is it to run in a facility?

To support the analysis of raw data collected by the DVC®, Tecniplast developed a cloud platform called DVC® Analytics, which currently implements 2 metrics:

• Average - Provides the average of the raw data for each electrode; it can be used to:

  • Monitor the level of moisture of the bedding.
  • Determine the location of where the selected cage soiling area is.
  • Analyze water leaks.

• Activation - Measures activity within the cage by capturing animal movements. It can be used to:

  • Detect animal activity.
  • Evaluate rhythms (es. Diurnal activities and relationship to Circadian rhythms).
  • Response to procedures (bedding change, light on, etc).
  • Spatial activity distribution.

Are there other metrics you know Tecniplast plan to implement in DVC® Analytics in short term?

Yes! As for example:

• Single mouse tracking based for:

  • Distance walked.
  • Cage Floor occupancy.
  • Average speed.

• Occupational metric for:

  • Edge Activation.
  • Immobility/resting time for multiple mice.
  • Time spent in specific areas of the cage.

• Running wheel data collection.

• Activity bursts.

• Turning preferences.

• Activity Disruption Index.

• Dark/Light Activity Patterns.

• Anomaly Detection.

The above points make the DVC® system a fantastic tool for Researchers. To what extend does the DVC® also offer improved efficiency in terms of time and manpower required for animal care?

Correct! DVC® is a extraordinary tool for lab animal management too!. Overall DVC®:

  • Standardizes cage conditions.
  • Reduces running costs.
  • Reduces unnecessary animal stress.
  • Can add to cage life and duration.
  • Can reduce caging inventory and storage concerns.
  • Allows staff to spend more time on welfare issues or other needs than on constant changing of cages based off calendar dates.

In few words DVC improves efficiency in terms of:

  • Collection 24/7 animal activity in the home cage and alerts in case there are some anomalies.
  • Analysis of bedding level of moisture to suggest a better cage change based on real moisture conditions and not anymore on a fixed data (ex. Weekly or bi-weekly approach).
  • Performing a real time tracking of each individual cage around the animal rooms for accurate automatic census and immediate finding.
  • Early Detection of water flooding coming from AWS or Water bottles.
  • Assures appropriate placement of water bottles and water availability.
  • Balancing Vivarium workload based on operator’s time availability, skills and room access.
  • 24/7 monitor Food and Water availability.

Leopoldo Zauner – Marketing Director