Summer School alumna discovers animal free method of creating human brain cell for research
Published on October 27, 2022
Emily-Rose Martin, a former Animal Free Research UK Summer Student, has discovered a new, animal-free method through which neuroscientists can produce human neuron-like cells to study brain development.
Video © University of Exeter
Emily, who graduated in Medical Sciences at Exeter in 2021, made the discover while taking part in our Summer Student Programme.
Currently, scientists often use brain cells from mice and rats to study brain disorders – but one of the limitations is that the results do not always translate to the human brain.
Working in the laboratory of Professor Asami Oguro-Ando, at the University of Exeter Medical School, Emily discovered a new way to create a type of brain cell that does not rely on animal research. The cells created via the new method are human-like, making it more likely that research using them could lead to benefits in humans.
The new method is outlined in a research paper published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, making the new method available to scientists worldwide. Emily said:
“It’s so exciting to be a key part of a team to have made a discovery that can really contribute to science, so soon after graduating. I’m incredibly proud that this new model system could be a valuable tool for neuroscientists. I hope it will accelerate the development of new therapeutics to help people affected by brain disorders better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.”
Professor Oguro-Ando thanked Animal Free Research UK for funding the Summer Student Programme. Emily’s project builds on work by previous Exeter Medical Sciences graduate Josan Gandawijaya, who is now her supervisor. Lucille Binninger, another Animal Free Research UK Summer Student and Exeter Medical Sciences graduate, will carry on Emily’s research.
Professor Oguro-Ando said: “This is an amazing pipeline of highly competent students coming through straight from their undergraduate degree to interesting, cutting-edge research and prospects of career progression. It’s a fantastic model.”
Dr Jarrod Bailey, Science Director for Animal Free Research UK, said: “Many more scientists than ever before are appreciating and communicating the need for greater human relevance in biomedical research, as a way to solve the problems of translating the results of this research into actual human clinical benefit. It’s always wonderful to see developments like those in which Emily and her supervisor have been involved, and at Animal Free Research UK we’re thrilled to have supported this important discovery. Humane, human-focused research is the future, and we congratulate the team at Exeter for their outstanding work.”
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