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Dr Davina Simoes on the Animal Free Labcast

Published on January 30, 2024

Dr Davina Simoes, Assistant Professor in Cellular Pathology at Northumbria University joins me in a fascinating episode of the Animal Free Labcast. We discuss her animal-free research into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sarcopenia.

I’ll admit I didn’t know much about COPD or sarcopenia before talking with Davina, but they’re clearly devastating diseases that we desperately need better treatments for.

COPD is one of the most common respiratory diseases in the UK – affecting upwards of 3 million people according to the NHS.  Caused by smoking and pollution, COPD is a collection of lung diseases that includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive diseases.

Davina tells me that COPD is one of many diseases that can lead to sarcopenia, which is age-related loss of muscle mass and function. It can cause older people to become more prone to illness and falls, and the associated reduction of mobility can result in a loss of independence.

Tune in and find out about the important headway Davina is making into these diseases. And why it’s so important to do this research without using animals – for the good of everyone.


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Sarcopenia is a disease we’re probably all aware of even if the name is unfamiliar. Many of us will have watched loved ones grow old and frail, first losing muscle, then their ability to stand unassisted, and eventually their independence. It’s utterly heartbreaking. And it won’t surprise you that research on animals doesn’t hold the answers.

Thanks to the incredible kindness of people like you, Animal Free Research UK is proud to have awarded Davina with two pilot grants to support her groundbreaking work.

These have enabled Davina to develop a 3D mini muscle organoid which better reflects the human muscle. She’s using this to understand muscle growth and its role in muscle wasting diseases like sarcopenia.

And she’s been able to take this work forward through a unique partnership between Animal Free Research UK and biotech company Canopy Biosciences to create high tech images that map how muscle growth is controlled and determine what drives sarcopenia.

As you’d expect, she’s doing all this amazing research without animal-derived biomaterials and is pioneering the use of animal-free antibodies.

Her vital research is advancing understanding of muscle growth, and paving the way for drug development and testing to more effectively tackle muscle wasting diseases – for the good of us all.

What you can do

If you’d like to make history, here are 3 things you can do to help make the change we want to see in the world:

  1. Join the conversation by listening to the Animal Free Labcast with my guest Dr Davina Simoes – available on our website, SpotifyApple or wherever you get your podcasts.
  2. Help us reach more people by sharing the Animal Free Labcast with your friends and family
  3.  Make a donation if you can, to support the transition to animal-free medical research.

Carla Owen, Animal Free Research UK CEO & host of the Animal Free Labcast

With heartfelt thanks,





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