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Changes at London Regional Transgenic and Gene Targeting Facility offer new opportunities

Change is afoot at the London Regional Transgenic and Gene Targeting Facility (LRTGT). A new structure, a change in services offered and new staffing model have been created.

This all took place following an extensive period of analysis, consultation and feedback from scientists and administration.

The changes are effective immediately. It is believed that these changes will enable researchers in London to continue their efforts in generating, maintaining and characterizing genetically modified mouse models.

Dr. Christopher Pin, facility director since 2009, will continue to lead the LRTGT. He is going to build on the success of the past four years of successfully generating novel mouse models through gene targeting and pronuclear injection, and establishing cryopreservation and rederivation processes for embryos and sperm, thereby allowing researchers an opportunity to preserve or share these lines with other laboratories.

The change in services has necessitated changes to staffing. As a result, Dr. Lucimar Ferreira will be leaving the LRTGT. Ferreira has been an excellent resource for the research community in London, and has helped develop the LRTGT into a facility that could provide state-of–the-art methodology in generating genetically modified mice.

The LRTGT will continue to perform pronuclear injection, embryo/sperm cryopreservation and rederivation through embryo transfer and IVF. Given the high costs and low demand, services that involve gene targeting in ES cells, ES cell transfer to blastocysts, and generation of chimeric mice will be discontinued.

Pin will still be available for consultation on all aspects of generating and characterizing mice through all of these approaches.

A new grant program will be implemented enabling researchers to continue proposing and developing gene targeted mouse models. Funding opportunities will be available to subsidize projects that involve gene targeting in ES cells, transfer of ES cells to developing embryos, and the generation of chimeric mice.

It is envisioned that this money will go directly to the facility that will perform the work, and will be used to offset the increase in costs of making such a mouse by going outside of London. More details will follow in the near future regarding this opportunity.

The changes being made allow the LRTGT to forge new partnerships with industry and researchers, and puts the facility in a position to develop new technologies as they become available.

The LRTGT has already experimented with zinc finger nucleases through pronuclear injection, and it intends to embrace the use of similar targeting strategies as we move forward.

A more fully developed embryo/sperm depository will be available for researchers to query and access mouse lines currently here in London. Pin will continue to work one-on-one with researchers to ensure the best animal models are made for basic and translational research.

The support and use of the LRTGT by local investigators will be a critical component for success. Researchers are encouraged to continue (or to begin) working with the facility to enhance their research programs.