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New Solution: LocoWhisk: Quantifying rodent exploration and locomotion behaviours

05 March 2018

The LocoWhisk arena simultaneously measures locomotion and whisker movements, providing quantitative measures of rodent behaviour for basic research or drug discovery. The improved quality and quantity of data that can be generated in each animal using the LocoWhisk arena means far fewer animals are needed to achieve statistical significance, when compared to traditional open field and gait analysis studies.

The system, developed by researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University, has so far been successfully piloted on rodent models, and would benefit from further validation and commercialisation opportunities. Partnerships are being sought with collaborators:

  • That have rodent models of motor or cognitive decline, (e.g. stroke, Parkinson’s disease and aging) and want to quantify the effect of a new treatment strategy/ drug.
  • That would like to combine the LocoWhisk arena with their own specific system, such as with electromyography or electrophysiology recordings.
  • From consumer product, biotechnology or laboratory facilities companies interested in commercialising the LocoWhisk arena and software.

Quantitatively assessing behaviour to measure animal health is challenging due to a lack of unobtrusive behavioural models to refine animal testing procedures. The LocoWhisk arena requires no animal training and the non-invasive simultaneous measurement of both locomotion and whisker movement provides increased sensitivity and reduced time for experimental procedures. This reduces both the number of animals required to achieve significance and the stress the animals experience. The LocoWhisk arena utilises a high-speed video camera, pedobarograph and infrared lighting technologies to measure whisker movement and locomotion. The novel whisker movement measures include estimates of angle, frequency, spread, amplitude, speed, curvature and asymmetry, which are highly quantitative and have been found to change under a range of health conditions, including Huntington’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

Using the LocoWhisk arena the number of rodent models can be reduced, as significant results can be seen between groups containing only five animals, rather than the 12 animals that are usually recommended for behavioural testing. The speed at which LocoWhisk can generate this data will improve animal welfare by alleviating the stress and suffering that arises from long experiments away from the home cage. LocoWhisk can also be conducted in the dark, under infrared lighting, encouraging more active and natural behaviours.

Visit the CRACK IT Solutions website to find out more and to contact the Solution provider.