Behavioral Assessments & In Vivo Assays

Our deep experience supports a full suite of behavioral techniques to cover the key neuroscience disease domains of cognition, mood disorders, psychosis, and neurodegeneration. Beyond these stand-alone services, our broad expertise allows for flexible, customized combinations of behavioral assessments with real-time in vivo microdialysis and/or EEG monitoring. By simultaneously monitoring behaviors and neurochemical changes in the same animals, we offer added value and efficiency by reducing the number of animal samples and the need for multiple experiments.

Case Study: Combining Microdialysis and Behavior

  • Situation

    Understand the mechanism of action and behavioral actions of a novel compound targeting Alzheimer’s treatment in an in vivo model.

  • Approach

    A customized study program combined push-pull microdialysis with measures of behavior in transgenic mice.

  • Result

    Following repeat treatment with the novel therapeutic agent, pathologic Alzheimer's protein levels were decreased, as treatment antibody levels increased, and a clear improvement in cognitive function was observed in the animals. This pivotal data enabled the further development of the novel agent.

Anxiety/Depression

We provide a full range of assays used in the development of compounds to treat anxiety and mood disorders, including the ‘gold standard’ assays that show high predictive validity, as well as newer approaches that are being researched and identified.

Assays include:

  • Open field
  • Light dark box
  • Elevated plus maze
  • Novelty suppressed feeding
  • Tail suspension
  • Forced swim

Figure 1: Anxiety and Depression Tests in Mice

bar charts showing the positive effects of known anti-anxiety medications using three different methods – light dark box test, tail suspension test, and the elevated plus maze test

The effects of anti-anxiety drugs using multiple readouts are shown.

Cognition

Our broad selection of assays associated with aspects of cognition can be used to assess the effects of compounds on various components of learning and memory formation, as well as assessing both pro-cognitive and amnesiac actions of compounds. We often tailor custom protocols and assays to meet precise client needs and requirements.

Assays include:

  • Novel object recognition (natural, scop/PCP)
  • Contextual/Cue fear condition
  • Y-Maze (spontaneous alternation)
  • 5 Choice Serial Reaction Time (5CSRTT)

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Schizophrenia

To expedite development of compounds to treat schizophrenia and related disorders, we offer a variety of assays, including a number of well-established ones related to dopaminergic or hypo-glutamatergic hyperactivity. Compounds can also be assessed in the conditioned avoidance assay, as selective disruption of the conditioned response is a characteristic property of both typical and novel antipsychotic agents. As with all of our services, we work to design a program that is specific to client objectives.

Assays include:

  • Amphetamine/PCP induced locomotor activity
  • Apomorphine induced rearing climbing
  • Conditioned Avoidance Response

Figure 2: Schizophrenia-Related Assays

charts showing reversal of PCP-induced social withdrawal as a measure of schizophrenia

Reversal of PCP-induced social withdrawal as a measure of schizophrenia is shown.

Neurodegeneration/Movement Disorders

We provide a number of neurodegeneration/movement disorder models, specifically within the area of Parkinson’s disease our range includes utilizing neurotoxic lesions, vector-delivered alpha-synuclein deficits, transgenic animals as well as client-provided animals. Additionally, we can bring in commercially available animal models of other disorders such as Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s. Our flexible approach to experimental design is built for maximum value and efficiency throughout.

Neurodegeneration and extrapyramidal models and studies include:

  • 6-OHDA Lesion
  • aSyn AAV Model
  • Quinolinic acid lesions
  • Transgenic animals (commercially available and client provided)
  • Cylinder test or rotational behavior
  • L-Dopa induced dyskinesia (AIMs)
  • PD Psychosis
  • Haloperidol-induced catalepsy

Inflammation Models

Our complete translational biomarker solution for pain research combines standard behavioral readouts with microdialysis to measure both endogenous biomarkers and compound levels. 

Assays include:

  • Accelerating rotarod performance
  • Infra-red motor activity monitoring chambers
  • Morris water maze
  • Seizure induction/blockade assessment

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Behavioral Profiling

If you need to develop an overall behavioral profile for a specific compound, our assays, based on automated and observational measures, can assess motor function, activity, and other behavioral changes in a number of ways. We can design the assays to assess the compound on its own, or in combination with other agents that induce a deficit or hyperactive state, depending on your needs and objectives. 

Assays include:

  • Rotation
  • Locomotor activity
  • Observational battery
  • Grip strength
  • Cylinder test
  • Catalepsy
  • Rotorod
  • Drug discrimination
  • Dependence potential
  • Self administration
  • Substance abuse assessment
  • CNS safety pharmacology (Irwin testing)
  • Conditioned place preference/aversion