The Small Animal Imaging Facility is a state-of-the-art Pathogen Containment level 2 (PC2) facility specifically designed for minimally-invasive longitudinal multimodal imaging and is ideally set up for studying tumour development in the long bones of live mice from the microscopic to macroscopic level. The facility is located within the Biological Testing Facility where experimental animals are housed and is supported by core funded in-house veterinarian, a small animal imaging technician and veterinary staff. In addition to standard imaging technologies the Facility has three unique technologies that place us at the leading edge of the field, these include:
• IVIS Spectrum and Quantum FX microCT Pre-clinical In Vivo Imaging System. This multimodal imaging system combines high resolution (up to 20mm) optical imaging of bioluminescent or multispectral fluorescent signals from the tumour cells with microCT scanning of the whole mouse to localise tumours to skeletal and non-skeletal sites, quantify tumour progression and assess the impact of the tumour on bone over time.
• Zeiss LSM 7MP multi-photon system. This two-photon microscope is purpose-built to enable deep tissue imaging at subcellular resolution (300nm) in live animals by interrogation with an ultrafast femtosecond-pulsed infra-red laser. The system has been optimized for longitudinal intravital imaging of long bones and makes it possible to directly visualise the steps involved in bony metastases from the initial seeding by single cancer cells to their expansion into colonies. Importantly, it also enables the identification of dormant tumour cells within their niche and the cellular interactions that maintain this dormant state.
• Leica SP8 compact OPO multiphoton system. This state-of-the-art dual colour multiphoton microscope enables simultaneous high-resolution imaging of subcellular molecular events to be monitored from deep within live disease tissue. The optical parametric oscillator (OPO) allow dual imaging of simultaneous event to be imaged in real-time while the inbuilt FLIM-FRET system allow us to apply molecular biosensor FRET imaging to disease tissue. The SP8 is also set up to allow intravital imaging through optical windows to monitor longitudinal molecular changes in response to drug treatment and combination therapy.