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Panorama Newsletter


We’re interviewing Juan Martin Caballero, the Director of Animal Units at the Cajal International Neuroscience Center (CINC), located in Alcala de Henares (Madrid), Spain, about the new installation in the facility.

The Cajal International Neuroscience Center (CINC) has recently inaugurated its new laboratory animal facility under the auspices of the Spanish Research Council.

The CINC aims to create a highly competitive, multidisciplinary research space for the study of the basic functioning of the nervous system to solve brain diseases and design educational and behavior-recovery programs.

This new laboratory animal facility is one of the most modern in the world!

Martin, can you give us some statistics about the facility?

The total area of the animal facility is six thousand square meters, including the technical floors and service areas. There are three independent animal facilities, each with its own separate entrance. In the breeding animal facility we have four large rooms of 125 m2 each with capacity for five thousand IVC and DVC cages, including also Tecniplast Change Stations, plus a 62 m2 rat room with capacity for 1,000 Double Decker or GR900 cages, together with a large transgenesis and cryopreservation laboratory.

In the experimental and housing animal facility we have a 50 m2 housing room for rodents in longitudinal studies, and 12 behavioral rooms of 11 m2 each for behavioral studies.

We also have four laboratories in this area for neurophysiology tests, operating rooms, reverse cycle rooms, and three 20m2 rooms for housing rodents under study. All of them are equipped with Tecniplast Recovery Units for newly-operated rodents, and Ventilated Cabinets with temperature control up to 30ºC and regulation of the light/dark cycle.

The common washing and sterilization area is ready to receive thousands of cage units and bottles daily, equipped with a Pegasus robotized washing tunnel, an Atlantis rack washer, and a Poseidon robot to fully process the water bottles (540 bottles/hour). In addition we have 3 large autoclaves with six thousand liters capacity chambers, and up to five SAS systems for decontamination with hydrogen peroxide. For access to these SPF areas we have two locker rooms with four sterile air showers.

The third is a totally independent biosafety containment level three (NCB3) animal facility, with controlled access, a compulsory automatic water shower at the exit, a biowaste to inactivate liquid effluents and autoclave and SAS sterilization equipment to decontaminate products and materials before they leave this biosafety area.

Inside we have three test laboratories and a housing room for 1,000 cages in negative pressure IVC, as well as biological safety cabinets to handle these rodents. This whole area occupies 200 m2 with another 200 m2 of technical floor.

What are the expected results of using this facility for the CINC and the main difficulties you encountered in designing and building for the facility?

This large animal facility will support research into the brain, its structure and functioning, and will be used to search for therapies to fight neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Autism, etc. as well as infectious agents that deteriorate the brain, such as prions, COVID-19, …. The main difficulties in designing and completing this large animal facility have been coordinating the works with the installations of large equipment and ensuring that everything fits together like a puzzle and works properly.

We see you have adopted the DVC®. Can you tell us why, benefits from a LA manager point of view and expected results for a researcher point of view?

To have this DVC® equipment has been a fundamental aspect for me, because in recent years and with good publications it has become clear that we must know what happens to our rodents during the night, when they are active, playing, mating, eating and fighting. When we arrive in the morning at the facility, we should have alarms about what has happened in the cages of our valuable rodents, and we should be able to go and solve them quickly.