Millions of Americans are affected by neurological disorders such as stroke and spinal cord injury. These disorders often result in impaired motor function and lead to significant disability amongst those affected. Despite major efforts to develop therapies to alleviate the burden of these disorders, virtually all promising preclinical therapies fail to successfully translate to the clinic. Reports from the Stroke Therapy Academic Industry Roundtable and the NINDS suggest that preclinical studies that eliminate outcome bias and ensure appropriate power would have a substantial impact on improving the predictive power of these studies, and consequently improve the development and successful translation of therapies. Current state-of-the-art preclinical models that evaluate motor function are exceedingly labor intensive, bear the potential for experimenter bias, and cannot reasonably be scaled up. Here, we propose to fully develop our novel MotoTrak system, the first high-throughput, automated rodent operant conditioning system able to isolate, quantify, and track skilled forelimb performance in rats and mice. The system quantifies a wide range of clinically relevant parameters, including forelimb force generation, digit extension/flexion, supination/pronation, and kinematic movement speed. A single minimally trained technician can run a dozen animals simultaneously and obtain approximately 1000 trial samples per rat per day. The amount and accuracy of the data collected represents a substantial improvement over current available motor assessment systems. Vulintus proposes to develop MotoTrak from a laboratory-grade system to a commercially viable product and market the system to academic research laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, and contract research organizations across the world. With MotoTrak, Vulintus has the potential to transform the field of motor behavioral research and subsequently enhance the development of therapies to treat neurological disorders.

Public Health Relevance

Millions of Americans continue to suffer from stroke, spinal cord injury, Parkinson's Disease and other neurological conditions. To support the rapid and efficient development of new therapies for their treatment, it is imperative that automated quantitative motor behavioral assays become available to the animal research community. For this Fast-Track SBIR project, Vulintus LLC proposes to develop 'MotoTrak', the first high-throughput, automated rodent operant conditioning chamber system able to quantify and track skilled forelimb performance in trained rats and mice.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-ETTN-C (10))
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Chen, Daofen
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Vulintus, LLC
United States
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