Charles River & Allentown Partnership

Science & Technology Collide

During discussions with Allentown Inc., an industry leader with extensive history and expertise in the production of animal housing, an idea was born. Working together, the teams merged science with technology to develop a sampling unit that is specifically designed to capture exhaust air dust directly from the plenum of Allentown’s individually ventilated racks (IVCs).

The Science

PCR testingBedding sentinel health surveillance programs have been the standard practice for monitoring the health of research animal colonies housed in IVC racks. These types of programs rely on naïve animals that are introduced into a resident animal population, exposed to the resident animals or soiled bedding, and sampled in lieu of the principal animals. Most commonly, sentinel animals are indirectly exposed to infectious agents, and herein is the disadvantage.

Certain infectious agents are not readily detected by sentinel animals exposed to soiled bedding. Therefore, this method can potentially be a poor indicator of the actual infection status of an animal rack. To minimize this biosecurity risk, the 360 Diagnostics™ R&D team refined the use of exhaust air dust (EAD®) and environmental PCR testing to deliver health surveillance programs that accurately and specifically assess the health of resident animal colonies, all with limited or no use of sentinel animals.

The Technology

Through work with collaborators, Charles River qualified the combination of PCR and EAD® swabbing of IVC rack plenums as a scientifically feasible alternative to soiled-bedding sentinel testing. With Allentown Inc., it made possible the merging of EAD® PCR testing with a unique sample capture unit designed to reduce the labor and costs associated with maintaining soiled-bedding sentinels. The Allentown Sentinel™ EAD® unit is a revolutionary colony protection solution that can be easily integrated into Allentown IVC plenum chambers to provide a more effective approach for monitoring the health of animal colonies housed in IVCs.

During the research and development process, Charles River conducted various studies to assess the sensitivity and specificity of the Sentinel™ EAD® unit. This process included the continual refinement of specific EAD® PCR assays to be used. The data collected resulted in an increase in accuracy and specificity of the Sentinel™ EAD® unit versus soiled-bedding sentinels.

Alternative animal health monitoring programs utilizing the Allentown Sentinel™ EAD® unit are available through Charles River. Learn More

Sentinel is a trademark of Allentown, Inc., EAD is a registered trademark of Charles River Laboratories, Inc.