Thomas Vihtelic, director of experimental therapeutics at MPI Research, highlights the work the contract research organisation is conducting on animal models of inflammation, which may be used to test the compounds being developed to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

The cardinal signs of inflammation include swelling, redness and pain. Inflammation can be associated with acute or chronic conditions of the musculoskeletal, nervous, cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, with genetics also playing multiple roles in its expression; however, regardless of the location or degree, most people just want the inflammation to go away. Inflammation is a good thing. It’s how the body’s immune system kick-starts the healing process, but too much of a good thing can be painful, damaging or even deadly. Unregulated inflammation, which is the root of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis and other conditions, affects millions of people worldwide. The pain and dysfunction of these conditions can range from annoying to debilitating, causing suffering and often the inability to work or enjoy life.

Animal models

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies developing new treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune conditions select a contract research organisation to conduct studies using appropriate animal disease models based on their capabilities to yield accurate and comprehensive results.

Animal models of inflammation established at MPI Research include proteolipid protein-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), and collageninduced arthritis in rodents. These models may be used to test compounds being developed to treat multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Additional acute and chronic inflammatory conditions may be studied using models of chemically induced edema and bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis.

The following endpoints and technical capabilities may be used in studies with the various acute and chronic inflammatory disease models at MPI Research:

  • paw volume measurements (plethysmometry)
  • tactile allodynia (von Frey fibres) and thermal hyperalgesia (modified Hargreaves)
  • clinical sign scoring
  • histopathology
  • lung function evaluations (FlexiVent)
  • bronchoalveolar lavage, including leukocyte differential counts
  • tissue collagen content
  • biomarker analysis, including gene and protein expression
  • molecular imaging