So this week was better than the last. As mentioned previously, this week’s theme is BEHAVIOUR. And we observed mice behaviour mostly.
So on Monday, we got a tour of the facility after our briefing (and the Fire Drill). We were shown the fish tanks which wasn’t that interesting. I mean, it’s fishes in tanks. You kinda feel like you’re picking which one to cook for your dinner. There was this one baby fish that was naturally skewed. It’s body was in a 90 degree angle, the poor thing, and it was struggling to swim. It kept going round and round, basically twirling. Rest assure, the fish wasn’t engineered to be that way. I think.
THEN we went into the Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) Facility. This is when things got interesting. We had to take off our shoes, keeping on our socks and don the schmancy outfits: surgical gown, face mask and shower cap.
Pretty much like that. Then we had to go into this air filtering thingy place where you’re basically “sterilised” before going into the facility. Believe me, that felt extremely cool.
First off, we observed the doctor (PhD doctor, still a ‘doctor’ nonetheless) basically catch a mouse, anaesthetised it,
cut open a mouse’s head, drill through the very transparent and thin skull before inserting a cannula into it’s head. Then she glued the mouse’s head up. It was a bit disturbing to watch because the mouse was blinking away. The cannula was placed there to make the microinjection on Tuesday easier to do.
Then we moved to a different room, where we had to wear ANOTHER suit over the gown (yes I’m lame and felt very thrilled doing that). It looks like this, minus the hood-thing:
We were shown the area that they worked in, where the mice were subjected to stress tests a.k.a. the different sized areas, the different conditions. Sans the mice of course.
On Tuesday, we got to observe the actual stress test. We wore the same fancy surgical stuff and the special suit. The mice underwent a “fear test”. The mice were placed in an open-field:
The are is divided to 3 zone with one zone having an object that contained stress signals obtained from a previous mouse. It was to see how often mice venture to the stress zone. Then, we went down to the analysis lab to actually analyse the data.
Today, we got to carry the mice ourselves! It was a little hard trying to catch a mouse that’s running around it’s home cage but it wasn’t scary. Initially I thought I’d be terrified to carry the mouse but catching it by it’s tail and placing it in the open field wasn’t too bad.
We did an open field test, a T-shape thingy test (the area where the mouse was placed was in the shape of a + with two closed “arms” (meaning two sides were walled up) and two open “arms”(the mouse was completely exposed) [to see how often a mouse would venture out or try to venture out into an open area] and a drowning test. I thought the drowning test would look very cruel and horrid to watch but it wasn’t. The mouse struggled in the water but then it just started floating which was kinda funny to watch. The mice were never left too long in any of the conditions to keep in line with the ethical code.
Then we helped a PhD student analyse his data by using some programs and Microsoft Excel to make graphs and stuff. And yup, that’s pretty much it. 🙂 Tomorrow is my last day so we’ll see what I do then.