Monday, January 8, 2018

Empower yourself

Attending a training such as the Phenotyping Mice Models of Human Lung Disease organized by the Jackson Laboratory is a great way to advance skillsets or simply get started in the field of respiratory research. It represents a wonderful opportunity for researchers of all stages to learn and network in a structured yet informal environment. The uniqueness of the event lies in the roundness of the approach, which combines theoretical sessions and practical experience in all topics.

SCIREQ has been a partner in this event for years now and has contributed with providing hands-on experience to participants with lung function measurements using the flexiVent alongside authorities in the field. Practical exercises are designed to demonstrate a response to a particular intervention, highlight unique measurements (including partitioning the lungs between airway and tissue effects), and analyze outcomes with respect to their physiological implications.

JAX Experiments
As an example, participants were guided during the last workshop to utilize pressure-volume loops to confirm the effects of an intervention with implications on lung surfactant and atelectasis.  
Figure 1: Pressure-volume loops from a subject before (left) and after (right) a lung lavage. The red line represents the Salazar-Knowles equation fit to the deflation limb of the pressure-volume curve.
They were also invited to examine the effect of increasing the positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP) during ventilation and lung function measurements while exploring the impact on detailed respiratory mechanics parameters before and after the intervention.

Airway responsiveness to a specific bronchoconstrictor agent before and after a therapeutic treatment or an assessment of various lung volumes are also typically part of the repertoire of techniques taught.  

Figure 2: Single (left) and broadband (right) forced oscillation outcomes prior to and following increasing doses of nebulised methacholine in presence or absence of a bronchodilator treatment.

Looking forward
The event runs every second year in Bar Harbor, Maine, and accepts a limited number of participants. Plan ahead to take part in the workshop, which we highly recommend to both senior researchers and students alike. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Happy Holidays from all of us at SCIREQ!

Best Wishes for Health, Happiness and Reproducible Research in 2018!


SCIREQ Scientific Respiratory Equipment Inc. (Montreal, QC, Canada)
Closed from Monday, December 25th to Monday, January 1st.

emka TECHNOLOGIES S.A.S. (Paris, France)
Closed from Monday, December 25th to Monday, January 1st.

emka TECHNOLOGIES Inc. (Falls Church, VA, U.S.A.)
Closed on Monday, December 25th and Monday, January 1st only. Open all other days.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Why we need a mouse – Little mice bring big hope to the rare disease community

Animal models are important research tools for all human diseases, but they are especially crucial when it comes to understanding and figuring out treatments of rare diseases. Mouse models are the key to these researchers. Alternatives such as test tubes and computer simulations are not advanced enough to model all the interactions that go on inside a living creature. Researchers need to run experiments in whole organisms to unravel biological mechanisms and test therapies effectively. Without mice, much of today’s genetic research and medical progress would stutter to a halt.1

While working with in vivo models of pulmonary diseases can be challenging, even intimidating, SCIREQ has enabled scientists of all backgrounds to measure detailed lung function outcomes for almost 20 years with the flexiVent.

1 Niewijk, Grace (2017, October 4). Why we need a mouse. Retrieved from  

Read the 4 part article “Rare and Orphan – How we research, treat and live with rare diseases” here:

Monday, November 27, 2017


In patients suspected of a respiratory disease, the confirmation of a clinical diagnosis is often established following functional tests that can include spirometry, specific lung volumes/capacities, or both.  As in humans, the characterization of a disease model or novel therapeutic approach at the basic science or pre-clinical level could also potentially necessitate functional measurements of various nature to convincingly confirm a respiratory phenotype.  

Did you know?
The flexiVent was the first commercial device to
measure respiratory mechanics using the forced
oscillation technique in animals.
Pre-clinical lung function tests frequently involve an assessment by forced oscillation.  This provides precise and detailed measurements that are undisputed to characterize the mechanical properties of the respiratory system.  In some cases, it could be desirable to complement this evaluation with other disease sensitive outcomes or conditions to gain further insight either on the underlying mechanisms or the potential of the tested disease model or therapeutic approach at translating into something of clinical relevance. 

As shown in some recent publications1, 2, combined measurements can seamlessly be done within the same subjects and experiment using a single device - the flexiVent.  In these specific studies, forced expiration and lung volume measurements were performed in combination with a respiratory mechanics assessment to further characterize a number of disease models at baseline and/or following bronchoprovocation1 or to broaden the evaluation using various lung volumes and capacities2.  

Lung function measurement is one of our favorite discussion topics. Contact us for more information.

1Devos, FC et al. 2017. Forced expiration measurements in mouse models of obstructive and restrictive lung diseases. Respiratory Research 18: 123.
2Robichaud, A et al. 2017. Automated full-range pressure-volume curves in mice and rats. Journal of Applied Physiology 123: 746-756.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) Deficiency

Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is an inherited disorder, most prevalent in populations of European ancestry, and is underdiagnosed. It results from mutations in the SERPINA1 gene, leading to either a reduced level or function of the AAT protein. AAT deficiency results a variety of health issues, particularly predisposition to the development of liver and lung disease1. When exacerbated by smoking, this results in damage to the alveoli and ultimately emphysema with many of the features of COPD1.

The recently published Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency, in the Methods in Molecular Biology series (Springer Protocols) provides a comprehensive background to this disease and state-of-the-art methods2, including a chapter outlining the use of the forced oscillation technique to assess lung structure and function relationships, with focus on the flexiVent3.

Recent years have seen exciting developments in both the development of animal models for AAT deficiency research and proof of principle studies for treatment approaches. Using adeno-associated virus 2/8 to direct gene delivery specifically to mouse lung Payne et al were able to demonstrate not only elevated serum AAT but also protection against elastase-induced augmentation of compliance – measured using the forced-oscillation technique (FOT) on the flexiVent4.

Cox et al. performed pressure-volume loops and utilised the FOT with the flexiVent to confirm the increased compliance, with LPS challenge, of a newly developed mouse model of AAT deficiency. Generated using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, the model demonstrates many of the hallmark features of the human disease5

With the development of animal models which more closely resemble human disease, progress in the search for effective treatments will be greatly accelerated. SCIREQ looks forward to helping provide tools for this research.

1- Stoller, James K., and Loutfi S. Aboussouan. “A Review of α1-Antitrypsin Deficiency.”American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, vol. 185, no. 3, 2012, pp. 246–259., doi:10.1164/rccm.201108-1428ci.
2- Borel, F., & Mueller, C. (Eds.). (2017). Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Vol. 1639). New York, NY: Springer New York.
3- Parameswaran H., Suki B. (2017) Assessing Structure–Function Relations in Mice Using the Forced Oscillation Technique and Quantitative Histology. In: Borel F., Mueller C. (eds) Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 1639. Humana Press, New York, NY
4- Payne, J., Takahashi, A., Lonza, G., Balazs, A., Suki, B., Kotton, D. and Wilson, A., “Lung-Directed Gene Delivery Of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Using Intratracheal Adeno-Associated Virus 2/8 In A Mouse Model Of Emphysema”, Poster presented at: ATS 2014, D38 Update in alpha one deficiency, May 21st, 2014, San Diego, U.S.A.
5- Cox, A., Borel, F., Li, W., Brodsky, M. and Meuller, C., “Simultaneous disruption of five serpinA1 genes in mice using CRISPR/Cas9 to generate the first animal model of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency”, Poster presented at the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy 18th Annual Meeting, American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy 18th Annual Meeting, Gene Targeting and Gene Correction II, May 14th 2015, New Orleans, U.S.A.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dose rather than concentration

Bronchoprovocation is a pulmonary function test frequently performed in patients as a diagnostic or therapy management tool.  It assesses the subject’s level of airway responsiveness following increasing aerosol challenges of methacholine, a direct bronchoconstrictive agent.  

Recently, the European Respiratory Society (ERS), in collaboration with the American Thoracic Society (ATS), updated their guidelines relative to this test.  The most significant modification made was the recommendation that the test outcome be expressed in terms of the dose delivered rather than as the concentration of the solution loaded into the nebulizer1.  The ERS guidelines state that this updated end-point reporting allows for comparable results from different devices or protocols, since the dose concept can account for delivery variations2

Methacholine challenge tests are also performed at the pre-clinical level.  There, the notion of delivered dose was introduced earlier3 and researchers who have been using the flexiVent FX system have known for some time the effectiveness of this now recommended clinical procedure or its impact on study comparison.  Indeed, with the push of a button, the operating flexiVent software can automatically generate a delivered dose estimate for each subject and aerosol challenge.  The dose calculation is based on specific nebulizer, subject, and system characteristics and imposes no restrictions on the experimental protocol nor does it require additional pieces of equipment.  The delivered dose estimate thus offers an important standardization to the preclinical assessment of airway responsiveness that now coincides with the most recent clinical recommendations. 

Contact us for more information on the delivered dose concept.  Our application specialists will be happy to answer your questions or assist you to improve your study.

Contact Us
Phone: 1.514.286.1429 | Toll Free 1.877.572.4737

1Coates, Allan L., et al.  2017.  ERS technical standard on bronchial challenge testing: general considerations and        performance of methacholine challenge tests.  European Respiratory Journal 49 (5): 1601526.
2Coates, Allan L., et al.  2017.  The PD 20 but not the PC 20 in a methacholine challenge test is device independent.  Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 118 (4): 508-509.
3Robichaud, Annette, Liah Fereydoonzad, and Thomas F. Schuessler.  2015.  Delivered dose estimate to standardize airway hyperresponsiveness assessment in mice.  American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 308 (8): L837-L846.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Great success at JAX Workshop on Phenotyping Mouse Models of Human Lung Disease

After a year of absence, the well-established Workshop on Phenotyping Mouse Models of Human Lung Disease returned last week in Bar Harbor, ME.  As in the past, SCIREQ was a partner in this year's event, in collaboration with the Jackson Laboratory Educational Program.

The course, which offers great learning and networking opportunities, contains both a theoretical and a practical part and covers various topics relevant to respiratory research.  Two laboratory sessions on lung function measurements are typically included in the event schedule.  During these sessions, the participants are divided into small groups, where they can interact with key leaders in the field, such as Dr Wayne Mitzner (John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) or Dr Lennart K. A. Lundblad (The University of Vermont), while learning about state-of-the-art techniques.

This renowned scientific event catering to the needs of pre-clinical researchers from around the world was fully attended this year.  We will be there next time.  We hope you will be there too!

For more information on SCIREQ or its products for respiratory research applications, please visit our website at