The study of how living things move and are shaped by their environment often requires specialized tools and assays. Aurora Scientific has proven instruments engineered to the highest standards of accuracy and precision to uncover the diverse functional characteristics of muscle in your unique animal models. Measure complex muscle contractile properties from leeches, zebrafish and even cheetahs with our diverse, high-performance muscle physiology equipment.
Functional Diversity of Muscle in Various Organisms
muscle energetics, muscle morphology, locomotion, bio-inspiration, invertebrate muscle, amphibian muscle, reptilian muscle, mammalian muscle
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.
1310A – A Custom Apparatus for Larger Animal Models
In 2011 Aurora Scientific was approached by Dr. Christopher Cardozo at the VA Medical Center to assist with researching the mechanisms of muscle atrophy in rats.
Dr. Cardozo planned to use in-situ methodology to test certain muscles of interest; however, his rat model was very large and he expected that they would produce large forces. Aurora Scientific’s existing 1305A system and 806D platform could accommodate the measurement of forces up to 10N, which the animals were expected to well exceed. Larger transducers existed but they were too big to fit on the existing 806D.
Aurora Scientific had recently redesigned most of their in-situ apparatus and had spent a great deal of R&D time on building large animal apparatus. As a result, Aurora Scientific had the experience and expertise to design a solution that would meet the needs of Dr. Cardozo and deliver at an affordable price. A new apparatus was designed, more robust and easily able to withstand the higher forces and loads of large animals, yet still compatible with existing clamps and accessories for small animal use.
The Aurora Scientific solution worked well in Dr. Cardozo’s lab and provided an easy way for him to measure muscle force in large animals. He was able to collect large amounts of useful experimental data. The unit would later go on to find a minor niche for in-situ testing in lizards and also squirrels and other less conventional animal models. The redesign ultimately became the centerpiece of our 1310A Complete System.
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.
902A – Alternative Method for Measuring SL in Fibers
In 2008 Dr. Todd Gillis was starting up his new lab at the University of Guelph and was interested in performing tests on both skeletal and permeabilized fibers.
Permeabilized fiber testing requires an initial measurement of sarcomere spacing to ensure the tissue is properly configured for testing, but thicker cardiac and diaphragm fibers can be a challenge to measure with a camera-based method.
Aurora Scientific designed a simple laser diode system that could be used as an alternative to our High Speed Video Sarcomere Length system for measuring resting SL in thicker fibers. The laser would mount on the side port of the microscope and could easily be swapped for a camera. A removable target could be placed above the skinned fiber apparatus to measure resting SL, and then moved out of the way during the remainder of the experiment. The equipment was made from sturdy but inexpensive materials to provide a true low cost alternative or add on piece to measure SL.
The custom made setup worked extremely well for thicker skinned fibers and consequently provided Dr. Gillis with an economical option for measuring SL in a number of large fibers. Our system helped validate the viability and configuration of the tissue for mechanical testing and limited the wasting of compromised tissue, which was previously difficult to screen. Due to the success of this custom system, a similar version was built for use with our 801C intact muscle apparatus. The setup has proven to work well for a variety of tissues and has spawned other research projects for laser based SL measurement at Aurora Scientific.