Congratulations to Liam Chase for being published in International Journal of Pharmaceutics Volume 645, October 2023!
Infusion reactions are a major risk for advanced therapeutics (e.g., engineered proteins nanoparticles, etc.), which can trigger the complement cascade, anaphylaxis, and other life-threatening immune responses. However, during the early phases of development, it is uncommon to assess for infusion reactions, given the labor involved in measuring multiple physiological parameters in rodents. Therefore, we sought to develop an automated quantification of rodent locomotion to serve as a sensitive screening tool for infusion reactions, with minimal added labor-time for each experiment. Here we present the detailed methods for building a motion tracking cage for mice, requiring ∼$100 of materials, ∼2 h to build and set up completely, and employing freely available software (DeepLabCut). The distance-walked after injection was first shown to have the predicted effects for stimulants (caffeine), sedatives (ketamine), and toxins (lipopolysaccharide). Additionally, the distance-walked more sensitively detected the effects of these compounds than did pulse oximetry-based measurements of the classical vital signs of heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood oxygen saturation. Finally, we examined a nanomedicine formulation that has been in preclinical development, liposomes targeted to the cell adhesion molecule ICAM. While this formulation has been studied across dozens of publications, it has not previously been noted to produce an infusion reaction. However, the automated motion tracking cage showed that ICAM-liposomes markedly reduce the distance-walked, which we confirmed by measuring the other vital signs. Importantly, the motion tracking cage added < 5 min of labor time per 5-mouse condition, while pulse oximetry with a neck cuff (by far the most stable oximetry signal in mice) required ∼ 100 min of labor time. Thus, automated measurement of distance-walked can indeed serve as a “sixth vital sign” for detecting infusion reactions during preclinical testing. Additionally, the device to measure distance-walked is easy and cheap to build and requires negligible labor time for each experiment, enabling distance-walked to be recorded in nearly every infusion experiment.