Success stories

Pioneering.  Innovative.  Compassionate

Our Success Stories

The great story of our animal-free journey

At Animal Free Research UK, thanks to your support, we’re pioneering innovative solutions to some of the most pressing health challenges of our time. From cancer to Alzheimer’s disease, COVID-19 to diabetes, and beyond, we’re leaving no stone unturned in our quest for animal-free alternatives.

Our passionate researchers aren’t just making waves; they’re making history. With breakthroughs published in prestigious journals and presentations at top-tier conferences, we’re boldly pushing the boundaries of human-relevant research.

But this is just the beginning. Together, with you by our side, we’re building a future fueled by innovation, compassion, and unwavering determination.

Together, we’re rewriting the story of medical research, one breakthrough at a time.

Funding innovation across the UK

Since 1970, Animal Free Research UK has awarded over £11M in grants to fund 300 pioneering medical research projects that place ethics at the heart of the science of human disease.

View map of our projects

11000000

Awarded to fund animal-free research grants

300

projects funded across the UK

69

Student researchers trained at our Summer Schools

Some of our key milestones

1

1975

We launch the first ever cell culture study of eye irritancy, offering an alternative to the controversial Draize eye test on rabbits
2

1980

The World Health Organisation approves a cell culture alternative to polio vaccine tests in monkeys, championed by us
3

1986

We help replace the 110-year old Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. The new Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 marks a major shift in policy
4

1997

We help open the first UK Human Tissue Bank
5

1998

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is used to replace invasive experiments on monkeys and now used worldwide
6

2006

Our in vitro micronucleus test is approved to replace animals for mutagenicity studies
7

2012

We fund the first non-animal models of bipolar and Alzheimer’s
8

2016/2019

We launch the Animal Replacement Centres of Excellence (ARC 1.0 and ARC 2.0)
9

2020

Professor Lorna Harries and her team from the ARC 2.0 works on an animal-free test that identifies if someone is still infectious with Covid-19
10

2021

Scientists at our ARC 2.0 made a major discovery in our understanding of diabetes, using human cells. The work at ARC 2.0 has been ground-breaking in finding the gene responsible for changing insulin-producing beta cells in response to ageing – which could lead to new diabetes treatments
11

2022

We teamed up with the Alliance for Human Relevant Science and Dutch partners from the Transition Programme for Innovation to launch Britain’s first Helpathon to help researchers make the shift towards animal-free methods
12

2022

With Cruelty Free International and OneKind, we delivered our #TargetZero petition to the Government signed by over 100,000 people, which led to a parliamentary debate on phasing out animal research
White rabbits
Animal Free Research UK
Animal Replacement Centre logo
Target Zero Campaign - Animal Free Research UK, Cruelty Free International, OneKind

Each project we fund is a step along the road to completely replacing animals in medical research.

Some of our animal-free research success stories include:

Development of a 3D cancer metastasis-on-a-chip model, which combined with machine learning tools, can recognise and predict whether a tumour is likely to spread.  

Creation of an entirely new 3D model of human breast cancer which will help replace mice with implanted tumours. 

Investigation of the mechanisms behind development of type 2 diabetes, including the genetic changes caused by diabetic cell stress and how drugs can be used to target this. 

Pioneering research using a MEG brain scanner, allowing safe human brain imaging and replacing invasive experiments on monkeys. 

Development of computer models to predict how medicines behave in human patients, helping to replace tests in rabbits, mice, rats and dogs. 

Investigation into repurposing existing drugs for other diseases including dementia and diabetes, without additional animal research.  

Analysis of how synthetic female hormones may influence the ageing of cells. 

Innovative research into cardiovascular treatments using Thiel embalmed human cadavers to replace animal use. 

Development of a tissue-on-a-chip device that replicates the composition, structure and mechanisms of drug absorption by the skin. 

Development of ‘mini hearts’ which accurately mimic heart function, contraction and disease, providing an alternative to animal experiments for drug testing and understanding development of diseases such as cardiac fibrosis. 

Models to understand the bloodbrainbarrier, which causes difficulty in getting drugs to the brain, to test drug delivery and understand cancer spread to the brain. 

Development of animalfree models for breast cancer, which can be used as predictive platforms to investigate the likelihood of cancer spread. 

Creation of a 3D model of the infant lung which recreates conditions seen in diseases such as bronchiolitis, allowing testing of new drugs without the use of animals.

Development of animal-free cell culture methods to test existing drugs to see if they can be repurposed to treat brain tumours. 

Development of an animal-free assay for the detection of opioids by paramedics or doctors, enabling rapid detection of an overdose and immediate intervention to save lives. 

Establishment of a model of the human cornea to study Pseudomonalkeratitis and allowing testing of drugs. 

Development of an organ-on-a-chip study of the spread of breast cancer, allowing real-time observation at the cellular level, which is difficult to achieve in animals. 

The ‘VegFold’ project, which produces scaffolds created entirely from plants for tissue engineering and the study of visceral myopathy, a rare intestinal disorder. 

Study of human allergic immune responses, focusing on a type of white blood cell which is involved in the allergic response linked with the symptoms of asthma. 

Using gene editing technology to create human stem cell disease models for the study of vascular dementia. 

Creation of a novel animal-free technique to quantify active viral load in COVID-19 positive individuals and explore its potential for clinical use and evaluation of new treatments. 

Development of a 2D model of the inner intestinal wall, which is not accessible in current commonly used 3D spheroid-based cell experiments. This approach allows access to the important internal luminal cells which can be used in nutrient and drug absorption experiments, avoiding the use of animals. 

Creation of 3D liver models to test the delivery and safety of nanomedicines to treat liver disease. 

Development of organ-on-a-chip models of the brain to understand how blood vessels communicate during stroke and test how drugs cross the blood-brainbarrier. 

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Grantholder Papers:

Scientific papers published as a result of Animal Free Research UK funded projects and researchers