Animal-based research is an integral component of biomedical research that is used to understand complex questions of disease progression, genetics, lifetime risk or other biological mechanisms of a whole living system. The most common laboratory animals used in biomedical research are purpose bred rats and transgenic mice. The use of genetically engineered mice in experimental medical research has led to significant advances in understanding of human health and diseases.
Organized by Sri Lanka Association for Laboratory Animal Science (SLALAS) in collaboration with the Institute for Combinatorial Advanced Research and Education of General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU-CARE)
KDU-CARE collaborated with the Sri Lanka Association for Laboratory Animal Science (SLALAS) to organize the Workshop on Genetically Modified Mouse Models, In-vitro Fertilization and Therapeutic Approaches to Genetic Diseases on 28th March 2022 from 9.00 am – 4.30 pm at the Auditorium, University Hospital (UH), KDU. Dr. Andrés Fernando Muro, Group Leader – Mouse Molecular Genetics, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Italy was the key resource person of the event. The other resource persons were Prof Toru Takeo, Kumamoto University, Japan, Prof Deepthi de Silva, Professor in Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Prof P.B. Galhena, Director, Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Colombo and Dr Ureshani Karunarathne, University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Major General MP Peiris RWP RSP VSV USP ndc psc MPhil, the Vice Chancellor of KDU graced the inauguration session as the chief guest. At the inauguration, Dr. Andrés Fernando Muro, delivered a speech introducing the ICGEB, its research activities, funding and opportunities for research collaborations. In subsequent sessions, he discussed about “Developing efficient therapeutic approaches using genetically modified mouse models” using examples from his research works on neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and the Crigler-Najjar syndrome type I. In his final lecture, he explained “how to transfer the therapeutic approaches developed using mouse models to clinical practice?” giving examples from the successful clinical trials that he was involved in. Prof Toru Takeo, Centre for Animal Resources and Development (CARD), Kumamoto University, Japan conducted an online demonstration on “in-vitro fertilization” which is an important aspect in mice reproductive technology. His colleague, Dr Satohiro Nakao, Research Fellow from the Division of Reproductive Engineering, CARD joined the online demonstration with Prof Takeo. The online demonstration included the techniques in sperm and oocyte collection from mice, cryopreservation, insemination and identifying fertilized, unfertilized and pathogenic oocytes. Prof Deepthi de Silva, Professor in Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya delivered her lecture on “Genetic disorders in humans – What is common and what can we do about it?” bridging the gap between clinical science and basic science research. In her lecture, she quoted some examples from the literature in which the animal models are used to study human genetic diseases. Prof P.B. Galhena, Director, Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Colombo delivered a lecture on “Screening and detection of genetic diseases”. In his lecture, he discussed different molecular techniques that are used in screening and diagnosing genetic diseases. Dr. Ureshani Karunarathna, Department of Basic Sciences, Faculty of Allied Health Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura delivered a lecture on “Why mouse model to mimic human genetic diseases?” In her lecture, she discussed the similarities and difference in mice genome with human genome that may affect the translation of findings on mice models into humans. Brigadier W Chandrasiri RSP USP psc, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Defence and Administration), KDU graced the occasion of the closing ceremony. There were participants from different institutes and it was opened for the undergraduate students of BSc Pharmacy, BSc Medical Laboratory Sciences and BSc Biomedical Engineering of KDU. Dr Gihani Jayaweera, Senior Lecturer, Department of Basic Science, Faculty of Allied Health Science (FAHS), KDU initiated this collaboration under the guidance of Prof Charitha Goonasekera, Director-KDU-Care. Dr Prasad Premarathne, Assistant Director – KDU-CARE, Dr Anchala Kuruppu, Senior Lecturer, KDU-CARE and Dr Peshala Kumari, Senior Lecturer, FAHS were also involved in organizing the event.
Major General MP Peiris RWP RSP VSV USP ndc psc MPhil, the Vice Chancellor of KDU met Dr. Andrés Fernando Muro, Group Leader – Mouse Molecular Genetics, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Italy on 29th March 2022 to discuss the opportunities for further collaborations between KDU and ICGEB on mice molecular genetics and gene therapy. Major General MP Peiris stated that KDU has identified the need of providing training opportunities for KDU staff on novel and trending research techniques and therefore, support the efforts to further the animal-based research in Sri Lanka. Dr. Andrés Fernando Muro said that he is willing to collaborate with KDU on projects on mouse molecular genetics and gene therapy to support capacity building of its staff. He further mentioned that he can make recommendations for research collaborations with KDU and his colleagues in other research areas that are available in ICGEB. Prof C.L Goonasekara, Dean Research and Development and Director – KDU-CARE, Dr Prasad Premaratne, Assistant Director – KDU-CARE and Dr Gihani Jayaweera, Senior Lecturer, FAHS presented at the occasion.
The academic staff of KDU-CARE and Faculty of Allied Health Sciences had a meeting with Dr. Andrés Fernando Muro to discuss the possible training opportunities and research collaborations. Prof C.L Goonasekara, Dean Research and Development and Director – KDU-CARE chaired meeting and Dr Prasanna Premadasa, Dean-Faculty of Technology and Director – International Relations Office, Dr DU Kottahachchi, Dean – Faculty of Allied Health Science (FAHS), Dr CB Ranaweera – Head, Department of Medical Laboratory Science, FAHS, Dr HMJ Halahakoon – Head, Department of Pharmacy, FAHS, Dr Anchala Kuruppu, Senior Lecturer, KDU-CARE, Dr AMDS Karunarathne, Dr AWMKK Bandar and Dr Gihani Jayaweera, Senior Lecturers of Faculty of Allied Health Sciences were present at the meeting. Dr. Andrés Fernando Muro introduced the research themes and funding opportunities for collaborative research available at ICGEB. Through research collaborations, KDU staff and postgraduate students can receive advance training on research techniques available at ICGEB. They can also apply for research fellowships and participate in workshops conducted by ICGEB. After having a fruitful discussion, the academic staff members identified the need of establishing in-vitro fertilization techniques in KDU to reduce the cost and risk associated with the transport of genetically modified mouse models between countries. Further, Dr. Andrés Fernando Muro agreed to introduce KDU to their animal house in-charge to provide expertise on designing and establishing the animal house in proposed laboratory complex as a purpose-built unit. Overall, it was a successful encounter that brought benefits to Sri Lanka in long run in terms of advancing the knowledge on animal-based research.