Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Some rescued from Sandy... others not so lucky

Newly-released NYPD helicopter vision shows successful roof rescues, but many others, including off-duty officer Artur Kasprzak, lost their lives.

PT0M59S 620 349

NEW YORK: Among the smaller but still important casualties of hurricane Sandy were thousands of laboratory rodents, genetically altered for use in the study of heart disease, cancer and mental disorders like autism and schizophrenia, that perished in basement rooms at a New York University research centre in Kips Bay.

The collection of carefully bred rodents was considered one of the largest and most valuable of its kind in the country. The animals lived in colonies in the cellar of the Smilow Research Centre, on First Avenue near 30th Street.

New York University medical and research staff worked furiously to protect their human patients - and others threatened by the storm - in all three of its facilities in Kips Bay. Although most of the animals at the centre were unharmed, the centre staff could not rescue the animals in one of the facilities, despite hours of work amid the flooding that started at the institute on Monday night.

''The combined tide and wind resulted in extensive flooding in the building, and unfortunately, my mouse colonies were wiped out,'' said Gordon Fishell, associate director of the university's neuroscience institute. ''These animals were the culmination of 10 years of work and it will take time to replace them.''

University officials said storm warnings notwithstanding, there was every reason to expect the Smilow building to be protected; the building was designed to withstand surges 20 per cent higher than had historically occurred.

Dr Fishell said his lab alone lost about 2500 mice. Other programs at the Smilow centre, including research into cancer, cardiovascular disease and epigenetics, lost a combined 7500 more animals, both mice and rats, according to faculty estimates. Research in all of these areas would continue, university officials said.

''It's an absolute tragedy any way you look at it,'' Dr Fishell said.

The colonies are bred to carry some of the same genetic glitches thought to contribute to disorders in humans, whether high blood pressure, cancer or epilepsy. The Fishell lab has been studying the effect of specific genetic mutations on neurons that inhibit runaway electrical activity in the brain. Such neural overheating is associated with seizures.

The New York Times