Completed projects





Harnessing plant power: Plant-based 3D tissue models to study disease

Dr Massimo Vassalli has developed a novel animal-free 3D scaffold made from plants. This could be used to grow human cells which can then be studied, as well as offering a human-focused way of understanding how diseases develop and for testing drugs.


Development of an animal-free model to understand the role of the immune system in allergies

Dr Anna Furmanski completed a pilot study at the University of Bedfordshire, focusing on mimicking cell signalling. Her aim was to use a human-based model to shed light on the messages passed to, and between white blood cells called eosinophils, which may drive adverse immune responses to harmless allergens.


Developing a new animal free tool to detect COVID-19

Professor Lorna Harries and PhD student Merlin Davies at the University of Exeter are conducting a study to validate a novel, animal free test to measure the number of active (working) COVID-19 viruses to predict clinical outcomes and quickly identify those at most risk.


Developing a human model of the cornea to study keratitis

Dr Esther Karanukaran, at the University of Sheffield, is developing a novel, human-relevant infection model of keratitis that can be used to test and refine potential drugs before they are used in clinical trials.


Developing human mini-brain circuits to reveal new insights into stroke

Dr Holloway will examine how the neurons respond to stroke conditions how this type of nerve cell injury can spread to otherwise healthy areas of the brain and how the neurons surrounding the injury could be protected, limiting the severity of the stroke.


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.


Breast cancer research

Val Speirs, Professor of experimental pathology & oncology at the University of Aberdeen, is leading a three year study that hopes to identify an effective strategy for preventing breast cancer.


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.