Animal Models

The UNM Cancer Center Animal Models Shared Resource offers support for preclinical animal studies including animal model development, cancer cell injection/implantation, drug treatment, tumor monitoring, live animal in vivo imaging and tumor burden quantification, necropsy, and animal pathology. We also provide in-house bred NOD scid gamma (NSG) and NBSGW immunodeficient mice to investigators for their preclinical studies. We have recently established protocols for engraftment of human immune cells in immunocompromised mice.  These “humanized” models can be made to order.

Stinkemp and Lagutina Image
Mara Steinkamp, PhD, Faculty Director, and Irina Lagutina, PhD, Technical Director

The Animal Models Shared Resource

The Animal Models Shared Resource is located in the Cancer Research Facility (CRF), Room 217.

To schedule your consultation, please contact:

(click on the names to send an email)

Please acknowledge the Animal Models Shared Resource in publications or grant submissions in which you use images or data generated in the resource.

Suggested acknowledgment:

To acknowledge use of this shared resource, please include the following in your publications: This research was partially supported by UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center Support Grant NCI P30CA118100 and the Animal Models Shared Resource.

Following publication, please send us one of your reprints or cover images for our records.

The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center Animal Models Shared Resource acknowledges the following funding for facility support:

The Animal Models Shared Resource is supported by the NCI-designated UNM Cancer Center Support Grant (P30CA118100) (PI Willman, C.).

Animal Models Services

To discuss a new project, please contact the Animal Models faculty director, Mara Steinkamp, PhD, or initiate a consultation on CrossLab.

Services include:
  • Assistance with animal model selection, study planning, and design
  • Study interpretation
  • Assistance with manuscripts and letters of support for grant preparation
  • Training
  • Animal protocol assistance
  • Planning/Referral for animal modeling techniques/training

In collaboration with the Flow Cytometry Shared Resource, we have established two humanized mouse models at UNM:

  • huNSG (standard irradiated model)
  • huNBSGW (non-irradiated model)

Immunocompromised mice are engrafted with cord-blood derived CD34+ cells (single donor or multiple donor) to “humanize” the mouse immune system. Peripheral blood is assessed for human B cells, T cells, and myeloid cells 12 weeks post-engraftment to ensure humanization.  These specialized mice are engrafted upon request.

Please contact Irina Lagutina for more information.

To discuss a new project, please contact Dr. Donna Kusewitt, DVM, PhD, ACVP or initiate a pathology consultation request on CrossLab.

Services include:
  • Assistance with animal model selection and study design
  • Necropsy
  • Descriptive and semi-quantitative histopathology
  • Referrals for slide preparation and immunohistochemistry
  • Morphometry
  • Photomicroscopy
  • Serum chemistry and hematology
  • Training in necropsy and tissue collection techniques
  • Study interpretation
  • Assistance with manuscript and grant preparation

We support a breeding colony of NOD scid gamma (NSG) mice (https://www.jax.org/strain/005557) for use in xenograft models, particularly patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models, and "humanized" mouse models.

We also carry NOD.Cg-KitW-41J Tyr + Prkdcscid Il2rgtm1Wjl/ThomJ (NBSGW) immunocompromised mice that can be engrafted with human immune cells without the need for pre-engraftment irradiation.

Requests for NSG mice can be made through CrossLab.

Core personnel can provide technical help with specialized surgical procedures, drug delivery for therapeutic trials, tumor monitoring and measurement, personnel training, instrument operation, and data analysis /troubleshooting. We also offer complete xenograft services. The client provides the cells, and the Shared Resource personnel will introduce the xenograft into a suitable mouse host*. Xenograft implantation includes one cell line or sample implanted in up to 5 mice (one cage).

*NSG mice can be purchased from the Core. Other host mice can be purchased from outside sources.

Basic Xenograft Implantation

Animal Models personnel will inject cell suspensions I.V., I.P., or SubQ into mice.

Services include:

  1. Tumor cell inoculation
  2. 1 week post-inoculation monitoring
  3. Necropsy and fixation/freezing of tumor and tissues of interest

Complex Xenograft Implantation

Animal Models personnel will implant cells or tumor tissue into mice.

Services include:

  1. Surgical engraftment of tumor tissue
  2. 1 week post-engraftment monitoring
  3. Necropsy and fixation/freezing of tumor and tissues of interest

Complex xenograft implantation includes one tumor sample implanted in up to 5 mice (one cage).

Treatment Administration

Staff can administer treatments to mice via oral gavage, IM, IP or IV injection following investigator-specified dosing regimens. Staff are available to treat mice as required on weekdays and/or weekends with adequate lead time.

Tumor Measurement

Tumors can be measured on a predetermined schedule based on the experimental design. Lab staff will be updated weekly.

Tumor Monitoring

Mice can be monitored for tumor growth and general health. Staff are available to monitor mice as required on weekdays and/or weekends with adequate lead time.

Animal Models Equipment

The IVIS Spectrum provides both bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging of live mice using epi- or trans-illumination.   Up to 5 mice can be imaged at once. Spectral unmixing allows imaging of multiple fluorescent probes in the same animal and can subtract autofluorescence signal.  Bioluminescence or Fluorescence Tomography software allows for 3D reconstruction of tumors.non-invasive tumor imagings

  • heated platform and built-in anesthesia unit
  • high throughput: up to 5 mice (26 cm FOV)
  • high resolution: 20 μm resolution (3.9 cm FOV)
  • fluorescent and/or bioluminescent detection
  • Epi- or transillumination
  • 28 filters spanning 430 nm to 840 nm easily distinguishes multiple reporters
  • spectral unmixing
  • 3D imaging

The IVIS can detect deep tissue tumors of 1 X 10cells and subcutaneous cancer cells down to 50 cells.

To learn more about the instrument capabilities, contact the Shared Resource personnel or visit the Perkin Elmer site.

Annual Lab fee: $1,650/lab

Training is provided by the Animal Models Shared Resource.

Ivis Equipment Image

MultiRad Equipment ImageThe MultiRad 225 Irradiator is a compact X-Ray Irradiation System, which is a safer alternative to radioisotope irradiators. It delivers a broad range of doses with a uniform beam profile.  Applications include irradiation of feeder cells, oncology research, sterilization studies, and small animal myeloablation/ bone marrow transplant studies. Up to 12 mice can be irradiated at once using a plexiglass carousel.

  • self-shielded for safety
  • uses and x-ray tube to create ionizing radiation (no radioactive source)
  • can irradiate:
    • flasks of cells for feeder cell preparation
    • mice for bone marrow ablation or irradiation studies
  • 12 mice can be irradiated at a time

To learn more about the instrument capabilities, contact the Shared Resource personnel or visit the Precision Multirad site.

Annual fee: $1,100/lab

Training by an Animal Models Shared Resource specialist is required before unassisted use can be scheduled.

Assisted use for the IVIS or Multirad Irradiator can be scheduled for $90/hour, no training or annual fee required.

The Abaxis Vetscan HM5 Hematology Analyzer

Abaxis Equipment Image

The VetScan HM5 is a Five-Part Differential Hematology Analyzer for use in animal studies. It is fully-automated and displays a comprehensive 22-parameter complete blood count (CBC), including direct eosinophil counts and eosinpophil percentages with cellular histograms on an easy-to-read touch-screen. VetScan HM5 has 15 preloaded programs to perform five-part differential analysis (two subtypes of granulocytes, eosinophils, neutrophils and basophils) on cat, dog, horse, cow, alpaca and llama and three-part analysis on on mouse, rabbit, rat, ferret, pig, goat, monkey, sheep and guinea pig. Minimum sample size is 50 μL (five-part differential) and 25 μL (three-part differential). It is highly accurate and gives reproducible results comparable to reference lab analyzers. The HM5 has also been validated for use with peritoneal and synovial fluids.

Training is offered for a one-time fee of $206.00 per user.

Labs may also elect to have Animal Models Shared Resource personnel run samples for a fixed fee per sample. If you are interested in this option, please contact Irina Lagutina.

Unassisted use: Labs will be charged a reagent fee of $8/sample for use of the Vetscan HM5.

Assisted use: Labs will be charged $13/sample for samples run by the Animal Models Core.

The Abaxis Vetscan VS2 Analyzer

The Abaxis Vetscan VS2 Analyzer

Vetscan VS2 is a small animal chemistry, electrolyte, immunoassay and blood gas analyzer that performs accurate analysis from just two drops of whole blood, serum or plasma. 13 VetScan profiles are available from Abaxis including a comprehensive diagnostic profile, an electrolyte plus, kidney plus, mammalian liver, and T4/cholesterol profile. Profiles are packaged as single-use plastic rotors (one rotor/sample). Each reagent rotor contains a diluent and all necessary components to perform a complete multi-chemistry blood analysis. Rotors can be purchased by the users directly from the company: https://www2.zoetisus.com/products/diagnostics/instruments/vetscan-vs2

The core has two VS2, which can be booked separately and used simultaneously.

Before using VS2 independently, users must be trained by core personnel.

Vetscan VS2 users will be charged an annual fee of $206.00 per lab for unassisted use by trained personnel.

Labs may also elect to have Animal Models Shared Resource personnel perform analyses for them for a fixed fee per sample. If you are interested in this option, please contact Irina Lagutina.

Online Scheduling

Schedule now at iLab. (Login required)

Animal Models Shared Resource Rates

  • Annual fee per lab: $1,695
  • Training by the Core staff for first-time users: $210
  • Assisted use (no training required, no annual lab fee): $105/hour
  • Annual fee per lab: $1100
  • Training by the Core staff for first time users: $210
  • Assisted use (no training required, no annual lab fee): $105/hour

VetScan HM5

Reagent fee - unassisted run: $8/sample

Reagent fee - core run: $13/sample

Training by the Core staff for first-time users: $211

VetScan VS2

Annual fee per lab: $211

Samples, run by core staff: $20/sample

$50/mouse

  • Both males and females available. 
  • Large orders require early notice.

Base price is for 4-6 week old mice. Additional charges to recoup per diem charges:

  • $5 for each 7-9 week old mouse
  • $10 for each 10-12 week old mouse 

*Males can be engrafted at additional cost

Females engrafted with CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells:

  • Multiple donors
    • engrafted at 3-4 weeks
    • available 12 weeks after engraftment
    • $296/mouse (minimum 10 mice)
  • Single donor
    • engrafted at 3-4 weeks
    • available between 12 and 16 weeks after engraftment.
    • $350/mouse (minimum 10 mice)

All humanized mice are engrafted upon request.

$110/hour for:

  • Necropsy
  • Histopathology
  • Morphometry
  • Photomicroscopy
  • Serum chemistry and hematology
  • Training
  • Study interpretation
  • Assistance with manuscript/grant preparation.

$70/hour for:

  • Specialized procedures

  • cancer cell injection

  • tumor measurement

  • drug delivery for therapeutic trials

  • personnel training

  • instrument operation

  • lentiviral transduction

  • data analysis/troubleshooting with Core Staff

$207/aliquot

20 ul Lentivirus aliquots (PerkinElmer RediFect Red-FLuc-GFP CLS960003 and RediFect Red-FLuc-Puro CLS960002) can be purchased from the core.

$7.50/aliquot

1 ml luciferin aliquots (15mg/ml) can be purchased from the core.