Completed projects





Brain tumour research

Brain tumour experts Professor Geoff Pilkington and Dr Zaynah Maherally are developing the first cutting-edge, animal free, 3D model of the blood-brain barrier to find more effective ways of treating patients, including children, who suffer from brain tumours.


Can human in vitro brain tumour methods replace animal research?

Dr Karen Pilkington wants to assess whether human in vitro methods can be used to replace certain animal-based studies in research into brain tumours.


Quantum dots – Multivalent quantum dot non-antibody binding protein imaging probes

This project is developing novel, sensitive and animal-free cancer imaging probes as an effective replacement for antibody-based diagnostic reagents widely used in clinical laboratories. At present, most current clinical cancer diagnostic reagents are antibody based and rely on the use of animals. Antibodies are generated by injecting a specific target antigen into an animal host, which includes mice, rats, rabbits, goats, sheep, chickens or horses.


Filtering out kidney disease research that uses animals

Dr Francis and her team have developed MRI as a replacement to animal techniques to study both the structure and function of healthy and diseased kidneys. Changes in kidney blood oxygenation and blood flow in healthy subjects and CKD patients will be measured using MRI and the findings will be compared with clinical measurements (blood samples and biopsies). Dr Francis aims to investigate whether MRI could be a reliable diagnostic tool for CKD.


Wound healing – High-throughput analysis of synthetic wound healing microenvironment

This project developed an engineered in vitro model of wound healing and then used it to identify the factors that regulate wound closure. It established a novel platform that could replace many mouse studies and improve pre-clinical testing of drugs and therapeutics.


Brain tumours – Identification of common therapeutic targets in schwannomas and meningiomas

This research on schwannomas and meningiomas used a unique human cell culture model using cells derived from surgical patients. This has led to the identification and testing of new, targeted therapies and the team have successfully translated their research into early clinical trials. This approach has allowed them to screen approved drugs directly and go straight into clinical trials, avoiding pre-clinical animal trials.


Chronic pain research

Every year, 8% of the population will be diagnosed with chronic pain but only two-thirds will recover. By collecting human nerve stem cells from discarded human teeth, this project will increase our understanding of how inflammation affects the nerve cells in the face and how this can lead to chronic pain, whilst replacing the use of animals.


The Animal Replacement Centre of Excellence (The ARC)

The ARC, at the Blizard Institute QMUL, provides a unique environment for scientists to work together to develop human-based models of skin, breast and prostate cancer, replacing mouse models. It also aims to inspire the next generation of scientists through education about animal free research.


Improving access to human material for diabetes research

The Skin Research Tissue Bank (STB) at Glasgow Caledonian University currently supports several different projects in diabetic wound healing, vascular problems with diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and cellular ageing. Our funding will help the STB to develop new types of human cell models that can replace animal experimentation on rodents.


Diabetes research

This research aims to understand the mechanisms that cause particular cells of the pancreas, beta cells, to lose their ability to produce insulin in those suffering from diabetes.


Testing novel leukaemia treatments

This project aims to assess the utility of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) as a relevant model system for the pre-clinical testing of novel therapies to target cancer stem cells, especially in leukaemia. Currently, scientists rely on animals, such as mice, for the early or preclinical development of novel therapies in cancer.


Growing the guts to improve drug uptake testing

Dr Martin Garnett and his team at the University of Nottingham have made a substantial contribution to making studies of drug uptake across the gut lining more accurate and realistic than existing animal and human cell models.


Edentulousness – Developing a 3D organotypical model to assess skin and gum penetrating implant soft tissue outcomes and implant device development

The project’s objectives are to replace animal use in dental research by developing a 3D model of human gums that do not involve the use of any animal products. The model should be able to closely mimic the in vivo environment and model clinical outcomes for tooth root implants in vitro.


Using Thiel embalmed human cadavers to train doctors and test heart disease and stroke treatments

This pioneering work with the Thiel embalming method will help to teach doctors potentially life-saving surgical interventions such as advanced abdominal aortic stent graft repair without the need to practice these methods on animals such as pigs. Heart, stroke, kidney and liver patients are among those who will benefit directly from the training clinicians will undergo.