In this ShEEP grant, we request funds to purchase a high frequency ultrasound imaging system (Vevo 3100) manufactured by FUJIFILMS VisualSonics to specifically image small animals such as mice, rat and rabbits. The ultrasound-based techniques are increasingly being used for pre-clinical investigations. The Vevo 3100 system will be equipped with a linear phased array ultrasound probe specific for small animals and also has several upgrades in the ultrasound technology including; 1) improved resolution, 2) reduced artifact, 3) real time image processing, 4) left ventricular tracing, 5) improved workflow for rapid data acquisition, 6) speckle tracking analysis (for strain analysis), 7) an imaging station equipped with injection mount (for echo guided tissue injections), and 8) a high throughput analysis. This new instrument will be used by a number of investigators at the VALLHCS to perform small animal high frequency ultrasound imaging work. The non-invasive imaging modalities available in the Vevo 3100 system will allow applications that include imaging of soft and hard tissues, monitoring developmental defects in various organs including heart, brain and muscle in mice with targeted disruption of genes of interest, perform measures related to angiogenesis and inflammation, and guided injections of therapeutic moles at sites of interest. The Vevo 3100 system will permit repeated serial measurements in longitudinal studies, thereby permitting more robust statistical assessment and limiting the number of animals needed for the studies. A number of VA, DOD and NIH funded investigators at this VA Medical Center including Drs. Mohan, Lau, Rundle, Dong, Xing, Li and Edderkaoui will benefit from being able to use this equipment to perform studies related to their funded grant applications. Currently, no ultrasound imaging system for small animals is available for research use at VALLHCS. The requested instrument will greatly enhance experimental capabilities of small animal research that are relevant to the pathogenesis and treatment of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and hearing loss, diseases that are target areas of the VA research mission.
Veterans in general have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, two major diseases of the skeleton, due to their lifestyles and health issues related to military service. Hearing loss is the most prevalent service-related injury among veterans. Traumatic brain injury is a significant health issue which affects service members and veterans. The high frequency ultrasound Vevo 3100 imaging system will be used to expand ongoing investigations that are relevant to osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, traumatic brain injury and hearing loss, areas of research that are veteran-centric. Since an ultrasound imaging system for small animal research is currently not available at the VA Loma Linda Healthcare system, the availability of funds to purchase the Vevo 3100 system from FUJIFILM will have a significant impact on veteran-centric research funded by both VA and other federal agencies (NIH and DOD).