Aurora Scientific produces transducers specially designed for measuring force, velocity, sarcomere length and other contractile properties in muscle. Integration with specially designed apparatus and software simplifies complex characterization of muscle properties. No matter what building block of muscle tissue you use as your model, from the myofibril to whole muscle groups and connective tissue, Aurora Scientific has a solution for you.
Studying the Relationship Between Structure and Function in Muscle
muscle contractile properties, muscle architecture, muscle metabolism, fiber typing, mechanical properties of muscle
Dr. Rene Vandenboom – Brock University
I have been using ASI equipment since 2004. We are into our third generation of in-vitro muscle testing equipment and have always found it to be reliable, robust and that it does what it is supposed to do and with few surprises. In that time Geoff and his staff have always been helpful and honest in their dealings with us. When a problem has come up, customer support has always been timely and terrific. I have recommended ASI equipment to others in the field and will continue to do so in the future.
1200A – Easy to Use System Is an Invaluable Tool for Lab
In 2013 Aurora Scientific was approached by Dr. Espen Spangenburg at the University of Maryland about our 1200A test system for working with isolated EDL and soleus muscle taken from mice.
Dr. Spangenburg studied the mechanisms of muscle metabolism and intended to make use of in-vitro techniques to perform his research. While Dr. Spangenburg was familiar with these types of experiments from his work with similar home-built equipment used in graduate school, he needed something easy to use and reliable for his own lab.
Though the system was essentially a standard configuration, the 1200A proved that it is an easy to use, turnkey system for measuring mechanics of intact excised muscle. Aurora Scientific provided Dr. Spangenburg with a robust, accurate system that was capable of being configured to fit his specific needs. The system was engineered to include an adjustable tissue bath and mounts to simplify experimental setup. In addition, we included our flagship Dual-Mode muscle lever enabling the control of both force and length for a gamut of experimental protocols. Aurora Scientific provided further technical support to Dr. Spangenburg’s students covering software use and best practices for using the system.
Dr. Spangenburg was easily able to set up and configure the equipment to his lab’s needs and obtained high quality contractile data immediately with the first muscle tested using the system. The ability to adjust the tissue bath and mounts to suit their needs provided an avenue for straightforward tissue attachment and Lo measurement for accurate and reproducible experimentation. Control and measurement of force and length allowed the lab to go beyond isometric measurement to test more complex muscle mechanics such as eccentric and concentric contractions. The test system proved to be easy to use by both professor and student alike and was used by the lab for several subsequent studies. The 1200A enabled them to expand their research resulting in a number of publications and remains an essential piece of equipment for the lab to date.
1300A – 3-in-1 Test System Helps Major Pharmaceutical Companies Dramatically Improve Throughput
Several large Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies sought a way to quickly screen large groups of mice that had been treated with new experimental compounds/therapies.
Existing equipment in house was either unavailable or difficult to use and lacked the capabilities needed to meet throughput demands. The precision of any in house equipment was also questionable.
With the 1300A 3-in-1 system, Aurora Scientific provides researchers with a cost effective alternative, enabling quick, easy measurement of intact and isolated muscle function. Designed for in-vivo, in-vitro and in-situ testing, the 3-in-1 system is ideally suited for experimental protocols which require quick transitions between configurations. Combined with the ability to assess aggregate skeletal muscle function without surgery, sample throughput is further enhanced and scientists are able to meet the testing demands of large animal colonies. The system’s high throughput analysis module continues to improve productivity following experiments by providing batch processing of a large number of data files in seconds.
Researchers at these pharmaceutical companies saw immediate benefit from using the 1300A 3-in-1 test system, in some cases testing up to 50 mice per day and limiting the number sacrificed. Switching between the in-vitro and in-situ configurations when necessary, took only a few minutes, saving the researchers time and money, which allowed them to re-invest from their budget into additional systems, further improving throughput. The high precision system permitted small but significant therapeutic changes to be resolved and potentially used in life saving human medication. Furthermore, batch processing provided time saving analysis, enabling researchers to quickly formulate conclusions. Their work led to the publication of many studies which were presented at major international conferences. The system itself played a significant role in allowing drug DPU’s at major pharmaceutical companies to meet their goals and targets.
1305A – Footplate Configuration for Rats Invaluable to the Study of Muscle Damage
In 2012, Marius Locke at the University of Toronto had been studying skeletal muscle damage and the role that heat shock proteins (HSPs) play in protecting the muscle from stress-induced damage, such as exercise.
Dr. Locke was looking for equipment that could reliably and repeatedly induce muscle damage in his rats while accurately quantifying force production and recovery.
Our 1305A system was suggested for the job as it had the ability to perform the kinds of repeated contractions that Dr. Locke was looking to accomplish. It was first implemented piecemeal to integrate with some existing equipment in the laboratory, but because of its ease of use, the remaining Aurora Scientific pieces were added for a complete system. Aurora Scientific technical support helped craft the best protocols for Dr. Locke’s experiments and soon thereafter the first cohort of rats was tested.
The system has helped Dr Locke and his graduate students publish valuable findings about the protective role of HSPs in damaged muscle. In addition, Dr. Locke established an important rat model of standard human exercise protocols to gain valuable, physiologically relevant data which may one day be applicable to athletes and people alike.
1400A – Durable System Helps Researcher Study Thousands of Fibers
In 2004, Dr. Hans Degens was studying changes in skeletal muscle function and morphology. Dr. Degens was looking to use permeabilized fibers as his test samples as they represent a pure system for studying cross-bridge mechanics without bias and artifacts.
Dr. Degens was familiar with the experimental methodology of using skinned fibers but lacked the resources to build a system from scratch that could handle the higher throughput demands of testing human samples.
Aurora Scientific had recently released the 1400A system. This system featured an automatically indexing chamber enabling maximization of fiber throughput. The design also eliminated any manual bath movement, commonly found in designs at the time, thereby protecting the sensitive transducer from breakage. Dr. Degens’ system was also the first to feature peltier driven temperature control, allowing for extremely stable and precise bath temperatures, critical to these measurements. The powerful 600A digital controller has allowed for nearly every experimental protocol conceived to be executed by the instruments themselves.
The system has been in nearly constant use in Dr. Degens’ lab for the last 11 years and has helped him collect data required for many influential and fascinating studies in exercise physiology, comparative biology and cardiovascular health amongst countless others. This initial partnership with Aurora Scientific has led to other projects in whole muscle physiology as well.
801C – Ability to Assess Oxygen Consumption/Customization
In 2008 Dr. Carter Ralphe at the University of Wisconsin was attempting to measure force and contractility in his tissue constructs in an oxygen sealed environment.
Without the time to develop a custom solution, Dr. Ralphe sought help from equipment suppliers. Unfortunately he wasted a lot of time and money trying equipment from other manufacturers that didn’t work. Although another manufacturer finally refunded his money it took more time and effort to get them to agree to take back their product.
Dr. Ralphe consulted with Aurora Scientific for the design of a customized oxygen sealing lid that would work with a modified version of our 801C. The redesign allowed the unit to function in oxygen consumption mode or in a regular bath configuration. The customized chamber also allowed easy integration of Aurora Scientific’s industry leading 400 Series transducers which had the sensitivity required for the small and delicate constructs to be tested.
With this instrument, Dr. Ralphe was able to successfully complete his experiments and go on to publish influential results. He now has two units, expanding his research capabilities. Dr. Ralphe has also recommended the device to other researchers who, themselves, have gone on to publish. The 801C-300 since become essentially a standard modification and a part of our 1500A series of small intact muscle test systems.
900B – Sarcomere Length in Zebrafish Larvae
In 2011 Dr. Dennis Claflin approached us to try out our 900B Video Sarcomere Length system. Dr. Claflin was a long time user of Aurora Scientific equipment and an expert in single fiber measurements. He had been using a simple laser diffraction method to quantify SL in his permeabilized fibers, however, this method was not compatible with another one of his chambers.
This chamber would be mounted on an inverted microscope and used to test the mechanical forces of single, living zebrafish larvae. Because of their relative ease of rearing and their transparent body, these larvae can be used as an inexpensive model for a variety of human myopathies.
Since our 900B Video Sarcomere Length system uses a c-mount camera, it is compatible with virtually all inverted microscopes. Additionally, there are no complicated procedures for calibration of different tissues. A simple reticule to correlate camera pixels to distance and 5 minute calibration was all that was required. As long as the sample presents a remotely visible sarcomere pattern the software would converge to the dominant solution. All of these attributes made the 900B the right choice to study zebrafish larvae.
The video sarcomere length system was put to work on a variety of different tissues such as lumbrical muscle and ultimately zebrafish. The camera proved quite successful for setting resting SL in the zebrafish larvae despite the overlapping of tissue and skin. The lab’s results using these methods have been extensively published and were recently featured in a JoVE video publication.