Preclinical in vivo research facility

The NRC's preclinical in vivo facility leverages the expertise of the Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre in cell and molecular biology, chemistry, nanotechnology, computer and imaging science to evaluate biologics and vaccines in a variety of disease and challenge models. Our expertise and state-of-the-art equipment enables our clients to validate their biologics and vaccine design approaches and obtain a clear picture of the preclinical safety and efficacy of their products.

Our capabilities

"The NRC's support and expertise has been critical in ensuring the success of our cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine program and the resulting investment in our company. We certainly would not have been able to work with such agility had we not had access to the NRC's team and facilities within the vaccine and biologics divisions. We look forward to continuing to work with the NRC in the coming years."

Adam Buckley, Vice President, Operations & Project Management, VBI Vaccines
  • Validation of therapeutic targets and biomarkers for cancer, infectious, inflammatory and central nervous system (CNS) diseases
  • Evaluation of biomarker/target expression, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and brain penetration of biologics in cell, tissue and animal models
  • Vaccine uptake and distribution studies; evaluation of formulations for induction of immune response; response validation (antibody, cell-mediated, immune memory, functional assays)
  • Efficacy studies in challenge models for both infectious disease and cancer vaccines
  • Animal model development
  • Development of novel molecular imaging tools including nanocarriers and contrast agents; design of multi-modal targeting moieties on antibodies, peptides and other proteins
  • Development of methodologies for cell, tissue, and whole-body imaging in small animals; guidance in choice of imaging modality and combination of imaging modalities to provide enriched datasets

Why work with us

The NRC's preclinical in vivo specialists have over 25 years experience in the field, and have provided their multi-disciplinary expertise to a long list of satisfied clients. This cutting-edge facility provides biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies access to the latest equipment and expertise for the evaluation and functional characterization of biologics and vaccines, generating critical data for our partners as they prepare their Investigational New Drug (IND) applications.

Equipment and processes

  • Good Animal Practice® (GAP) Certification from the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC)
  • Animal Care Committee (ACC) in place to receive and review protocol applications
  • Full-time veterinarian onsite offering surgical, gross and histopathology services
  • The Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science (CALAS)- and Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT)-registered veterinary technologists
  • Experienced in working with rodents (gerbil, guinea pig, hamster, mouse, and rat), rabbits, and ferrets; specialists in working with immunocompromised mice
  • Individually ventilated caging (IVC) systems
  • Animal containment levels (CLs) 2 and 3
  • Fully equipped surgical suites and expertise in performing a wide range of specialized rodent surgical procedures including minipump implants, catheterizations, and intracerebral injections
  • Full range of veterinary technical services including drug administration, biological tissue sampling, clinical monitoring, polyclonal antibody production, and postmortem examinations
  • Behavioural testing capability including Morris water maze, radial arm maze, T and Y mazes
  • eXplore Optix MX3 time domain in vivo optical imaging system. Fluorescence and bioluminescence imaging in the near infrared (NIR, 500-800nm)
  • IVIS Lumina III in vivo optical imaging system. Bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging in the near infrared (NIR, 500-800nm)
  • IR VIVO™ in vivo optical imaging system. Fluorescence imaging in the short-wave infrared (SWIR, 850-1700nm)
  • eXplore Locus microCT. In vivo and ex vivo micro computed tomography preclinical imaging
  • FV1000 Olympus laser scanning confocal microscope with motorized platform for 3D imaging
  • Olympus IX 81 Lifetime CellSens microscope. High speed ratiometric imaging and visible-near infrared (400-800nm) imaging
  • Olympus IX 81 Lifetime CellSens microscope.  UV-VIS fluorescence and relief contrast imaging.
  • ImageXpress micro XLS high content imaging system. Automated, multi-well plate with environmental chamber for time-lapse imaging
  • Olympus BX50 sterology microscope for unbiased 3D interpretation of 2D planar sections
  • IMA™ hyperspectral imaging microscope. Fluorescence imaging in the short-wave infrared (SWIR, 850nm-1700nm)
  • Imaging mass spectrometry (IMS)

Image gallery

Contact us

Shawn Makinen,
Head of Animal Resources
Telephone: 613-991-4934

Maria Moreno,
Team Lead, ADME and Imaging
Telephone: 613-990-0829


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