Postdoctoral researcher at University of Münster
Kai Eder, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Münster, combines a background in biology with a budding interest in medicine. In his current study, he is examining miniature pigs to gain insights into certain diseases.
anvajo: Hello Kai. Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview. Would you like to briefly introduce yourself?
Kai: Hello, my name is Kai Eder and I am currently conducting research at the University of Münster. Originally, I studied biology in my Bachelor's degree and then gradually became more specialised in the field of medicine. As a postdoc in medical research, I am currently focusing on the Biomedical Engineering Centre. There we work with small pigs. Much of my work involves cell culture and in vitro research. For this purpose, I am already familiar with anvajo, as we used to use the fluidlab R-300 in the lab.
anvajo: That sounds quite interesting. What exactly are you researching with the pigs?
Kai: We currently have about 10 pigs that have been with us since 2014. Since they have been with us for a while now, they are quite a bit older by now. These pigs serve as animal specimens for diseases and undergo special surgeries.
With increasing age, they also sometimes develop urinary tract diseases. During this study phase, we have already unfortunately lost one pig, which is a rather serious matter for us. For this reason, we would like to do more intensive monitoring, especially with regard to urinary tract infections and kidney problems. Following our extensive work with the fluidlab R-300 in cell culture, I had the idea to try the vet fluidlab 1 for our pigs.
anvajo: Very fascinating! Before using the vet fluidlab 1 did you carry out the measurements for monitoring the pigs in-house or were the samples sent to an external laboratory?
Kai: Until now, we always had the inconvenient task of sending the data to external providers. My colleague who takes care of the pigs is responsible for checking the vital signs of the animals. We take blood from the animals and send it to external laboratories to measure vitamin status, inflammation parameters and other stats.
We often deal with excrement when we do microbiome studies to investigate the changes in the intestinal flora due to drug treatment, which is of scientific interest to us. The urinalysis we do is for our assurance that the pigs are healthy, as we are not directly involved in urine research, but just want to monitor the health of the animals.
I have previously performed urine sediment analysis, but I'm not an expert in this field. If we want to do a more comprehensive urine analysis, however, we have to purchase it as a service from a third-party provider. Therefore, the vet fluidlab 1 is a valuable tool for us to get a first overview of the composition and presence of substances in the animals' urine.
anvajo: Good to hear that. Do you use the vet fluidlab 1 in the laboratory or directly in the stable?
Kai: So far, we have used the fluidlab here in the lab. We have a large S1 lab where we analyze the samples, because we can also microscope there at the same time. In the beginning, it was important to see how we analyze the urine samples and what results the fluidlab delivers in comparison. Since then, we have decided to use the device in the stable.
anvajo: It seems that you are satisfied with the results of the comparison between the microscopy and the fluidlab results, would you agree?
Kai: Yes, I do agree. Of course, our analyzes do not go into the depth that one would expect from a veterinarian, for example. Our main interest lies in the red blood cells in the urine, some of which are already recognizable by their red color. The small sample volume of the fluidlab is what we particularly like. It is a challenge to obtain urine from these animals, especially sterile and fresh. The 20-microlitre sample volume is ideal for this. Since the device is directly on site in the barn, a direct analysis is quickly possible for us.
anvajo: Interesting insights. What is the basic procedure for collecting urine from the pigs? Do you use the free-catch method, for example?
Kai: Exactly, we collect the urine via the free-catch method. We have student assistants who take care of the enrichment of the animals and work with them regularly. They try to collect the urine of the animals.
anvajo: After the collection, what exactly is the urine sample tested for? Just the red blood cells you just mentioned?
Kai: Right, we mainly check the urine sample for red blood cells. However, we also look at white blood cells because the inflammation parameters are also interesting for us. The urine of these pigs contains a relatively large amount of sediment compared to other animals, which can sometimes lead to unclear results. This is simply due to the age of the animals. Therefore, one has to limit the possibilities of analysis somewhat. However, the analysis of the red blood cells works very well in any case.
anvajo: It seems that the vet fluidlab 1 is very well suited for your specific application, so to speak. Has the vet fluidlab 1 changed your workflow in routine examinations?
Kai: Yes, it definitely has. Our goal is to routinely monitor the pigs' urine in order to detect changes at an early stage. So far, the animals have been mostly unremarkable and have not had any urogenital diseases that required treatment. Now that such diseases are more common, we aim to carry out regular urine analyses to get early information before the animals actually become ill. To do this, we need a portable instrument to help us with the regular measurements. The vet fluidlab 1 supports us very well and enables us to streamline the workflow in the barn.
anvajo: And how are the results analyzed after the analysis? Do you use the datalab to export the data or is this done exclusively via the device?
Kai: Yes, we find the datalab particularly useful for storing the data of the individual animals. Currently, we transfer them to our computer via Wi-Fi and then back them up. This allows us to make comparisons and observe the progress, for example comparing 2 months ago with the current state.
I even think that the datalab provides a better view and analysis of the data, due to the larger screen and the possibility to view all the images. However, it is also important for us to be able to view and store the data immediately and directly on the device, so that we can come up with a direct recommendation for action.
anvajo: Has there ever been a case where the vet fluidlab detected something early, or have all the results so far been in the normal range, apart from the one pig that unfortunately died of a different cause?
Kai: So far, we have not had any detailed results that have concluded a disease. However, since this is an animal model with larger targets, it usually takes a little longer to gain relevant insights. However, our goal in the future is to detect changes before they become symptomatic. That would be ideal, of course.
anvajo: We are very pleased that you and your team are so satisfied with the vet fluidlab 1.
Kai: There we are! As a brief side note: The vet fluidlab 1 is of course also particularly interesting for us because we have worked with holographic microscopes before and have thus been able to develop a good understanding of imaging. So, we can interpret the holographic results of the device particularly well and perhaps also draw more information from it than someone who has no experience in it. For us, it is simply a practical point-of-care device for urinalysis and makes our work easier.
anvajo: Thank you very much for the interview and the insight into your work with the vet fluidlab 1!