Summer Student Rachel Sharp
Supervised by Dr Nick Peake at Sheffield Hallam University, Rachel Sharp is building a physiologically relevant model of fat development during inflammatory bowel disease, to replace experiments on mice.
The presence of abdominal fat is very closely linked to the progression of bowel diseases. Distinctive fat deposits are produced in conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, showing that the disease directly alters fat development. Increased fat contributes to disease outcome, including the increased risk of developing cancer. Understanding how fat develops under disease conditions is therefore hugely important in order to improve treatments.
In her summer research project, Rachel built an animal free model of developing fat, using a unique supply of quick-growing human cells. Her model will now be used to understand how signals from the bowel can dictate how and where fat is deposited during inflammatory bowel disease, by treating the model with molecules released by bowel cells under normal and inflamed conditions. In addition, Rachel’s non-animal model has the potential to replace the use of animals for studying the many physiological conditions linked to fat.
I am passionate about medical research and more so, animal welfare. Combining these passions in my summer research project has aided me to shape the path of my future career as a cruelty free, biomedical researcher.