Summer Student Sheree Smith
Supervised by Dr Nathaniel Milton at Leeds Beckett University, Sheree Smith is researching the replacement of antibodies with non-animal synthetics (nucleotide aptamers) for use in Alzheimer’s disease and cancer research, to help replace experiments on mice.
Kisspeptin is a hormone that could be used as a marker of disease in both cancer and Alzheimer’s. The measurement of kisspeptin therefore has the potential to help medical professionals identify and monitor both diseases. However, the current measurement of kisspeptin in patients uses antibodies, which are molecules that animals are forced to produce and are extracted by repeatedly draining them of blood.
In her summer research project, Sheree created non-animal, synthetic compounds (called aptamers) that could be used to measure kisspeptin in patient samples, instead of antibodies. Her research into these synthetic antibody replacements has the potential for future use in disease diagnostics. It could also help convince other researchers of their potential as a universal replacement for animal-derived antibodies.
With the kind support of Animal Free Research UK, I am able to begin my career with a conscience by contributing to Alzheimer’s and ovarian cancer research without exploiting innocent beings. This opportunity is teaching me how research can be adapted to be cruelty free while still being medically relevant. It is very important for future scientists like me to have these opportunities, so that I can pursue my own research career equipped and knowledgeable. I am very excited to see where this research leads as it has the potential to remove a lot of harm and change perspectives in the scientific community.