At the moment, the platform offers standard in vivo experimentation procedures for the evaluation of new therapeutic targets, nanotherapies and biomarkers in the field of oncology and rare diseases. Basic preclinical studies including toxicology, histopathology and efficacy treatments are complemented with non-invasive optical imaging technologies, which help to accelerate the development process of new therapeutic agents.

The platform offers different types of services:

  • Oncology models.The in vivo platform has available a panel of tumor cell lines that overexpress bioluminescent and fluorescent proteins that allow the tracking of tumor progression in vivo by non-invasive optical imaging. As for the experimental animal models, tumor progression and spontaneous and experimental metastasis models are offered (see Table 1). In a special manner, some of these models allow the monitoring of disease progression, the treatment efficacy and/or the compound biodistribution by means of non-invasive optical imaging techniques (see Figure 2 and 3).
    Table 1. Oncology Tumor Models
    Subcutaneous models
    Orthotopic models

    • Intrasprostatic
    • Intramammary (i.m.f.p.)
    • Stereotactic
    • Ceccum
    Experimental metastases

    • Intracardiac (bone metastases)
    • Intravenous (lung metastases)
    • Intrapolar (liver metastases)
    Spontaneous metastases
  • Non-invasive optical imaging (bioluminescence and fluorescence)The equipment for non-invasive imaging is run through the recently created Molecular Imaging Platform (PIM)located within the Animal Facility of the VHIR.The platform is equipped with a Xenogen IVIS® Spectrum and a Leica MacroFluo that were bought by the CIBER-BBN, and transferred to the VHIR.
  • Preclinical histologyThe platform counts with conventional histology equipments exclusively devoted to preclinical tissue processing. In this unit, all the biological material collected during the experimental phase is processed rapidly and accurately. In addition, when required, histopathological assessments carried out by specialized veterinary personnel are provided.

The key applications of platform are focused on:

  • In vivo validation of new biomarkers and therapeutic targets
  • Efficacy of new therapies under development using specific animal models
  • In vivo monitoring using optical imaging of:
    • gene expression
    • tumor growth and metastasis dissemination
    • biodistribution of labelled compounds
    • induction of apoptosis (DEVD-luciferin)
    • activity of metaloproteinase (MMP), and similar enzymes, using specific probes

Figure 2. Intracardiac experimental metastases model (bone metastasis) of colon cancer cells injected into the left ventricle of mice heart. A) In vivo images of metastatic lesions of a representative mouse over time are shown. B) Ex vivo imaging and hitopathology confirmed metastases in various tissues including jaw, cervical lymph nodes, tibia or femur and thorax.

Figure 3. Tumor accumulation of a nanopolymer labeled with Cy5.5 fluorochrome. Mice with a subcutaneous were imaged with the IVIS-Spectrum after intravenous administration of the polymer.