Shortly after David James retired in 2008, ownership was transferred to Geoff Chandler and Joan Chandler. At that same time, we had the opportunity to acquire what we now call our Dual-Mode Lever, as well as our line of Force Transducers. For us, this was a pivotal move to carve out a space in academia and become a big player in the field of physiology. We had formulated our muscle physiology systems around this lever system, which provides the unique ability to characterize muscle function in a dynamic way. The lever system can assess contractility in a physiologically-relevant way so that you can get a true sense of muscle quality when you’re performing a lengthening contraction, or when holding a constant load and measuring the power that the muscle produces. These parameters become more translatable than if you were to focus strictly on isometric muscle function.
“Ultimately, we saw this as a valuable piece of the puzzle, providing functional measurements independent of animal behavior.”
By removing the animal behavioral component, the researcher can get to the crux of the issue, which is basically functional improvements in muscle and neuromuscular disease. The lever system can also measure muscle in a longitudinal manner, allowing researchers to assess those phenotypic changes and functional improvements over time in the same animal.
We thought at the time that these systems would only really be useful for physiologists, not knowing the kind of impact it could have in neuroscience. We’ve had the privilege of working with several researchers who’ve studied animal models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, spinal cord injury, and other neurodegenerative disorders. It’s kind of funny because I did my grad studies in neurobiology and I always thought that neuroscientists focused heavily on the presynaptic side and never really cared about the downstream effects. Conversely, I thought muscle physiologists were very focused on the postsynaptic side, how the muscle works, and what happens when it goes wrong. This area has really thrived in the last couple years with the interplay of nerve function loss and muscle function degradation. That’s a field that’s really grown for us over the years.