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Summer Student 2017: Edward Nendick

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Summer Student 2017: Edward Nendick

Edward Nendick, supervised by Dr Mandy Johnstone at the University of Edinburgh, used one of the latest cutting-edge gene editing technologies, CRISPR-Cas9, to further our understanding of schizophrenia and replace experiments on mice.

Schizophrenia is a common devastating condition and while partially effective treatments are available, none are disease-modifying. There is a need for novel models of mental illness in human-derived cells to develop more effective therapies.

Edward used stem cells from individuals with and without disease-associated genetic mutations to investigate how disease risk is conferred at a cellular level. His research could lead to a way to correct the disease-associated mutation in the patients and thereby find a better way to treat and cure patients with schizophrenia.

Page last modified on June 13, 2019 12:20 pm

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Summer Student 2017: Taleen Shakouri

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Summer Student 2017: Taleen Shakouri

Taleen Shakouri, supervised by Dr Stewart Kirton and Dr Michelle Botha at the University of Hertfordshire, developed a toxicology computer model, to replace experiments on monkeys, dogs and mice.

This project was kindly and generously sponsored by Raj Saubhag.

When people take medicines the body has to break them down so that it can get rid of the waste products. However, some people are better at breaking these medicines down than others due to differences in their genetic makeup.

Individuals who are unable to break down medicines at the normal rate are at risk of becoming unwell due to a build-up of pharmaceuticals over time in their body. Unfortunately, animal experiments are used to assess whether or not a new medicine is likely to accumulate in the body. This is not completely reliable, as small molecular differences between animals and humans can give misleading results.

In her project, Taleen developed sophisticated computational techniques to replace the use of animals for such testing. Using powerful software that mimics the thought patterns of the human brain, she analysed the components that make up the medicines and used this information to accurately predict if the medicine is likely to be problematic for those individuals who metabolise medicines at a reduced rate compared to normal.

Page last modified on June 13, 2019 12:20 pm

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Summer Student 2017: Oana Voloaca

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Summer Student 2017: Oana Voloaca

Oana Voloaca, supervised by Dr Melissa Lacey at Sheffield Hallam University, used a novel gut tissue model to investigate the influence of bacteria in gastrointestinal diseases (such as crohn’s disease), to replace experiments on rats.

The lining of the human digestive tract is exposed to over 500-1000 different “good bacteria”. These bacteria help with the absorption of nutrients, prevent infections, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and even influence mood. Evidence also shows these bacteria are important in the growth and function of the digestive tract. Sadly, small animals such as rats and mice are often experimented on to investigate how the digestive system works and the role of the good bacteria.

In her summer project, Oana created a cell culture model that brought together the different cells of the digestive tract with good bacteria, to study how the two components of the digestive system interact. Her novel model could also be used for further research into digestive tract infections and disease such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and cancers – all without experimenting on animals.

Page last modified on June 13, 2019 12:21 pm

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Summer Student 2017: Evie Gruszyk

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Summer Student 2017: Evie Gruszyk

Evie Gruszyk, supervised by Dr Nicholas Peake at Sheffield Hallam University, developed a cell culture model to understand colorectal cancer without experimenting on mice.

There is a very clear link between fat and diseases that affect the colon. Particularly, fat build-up around the colon carries an increased risk of developing colon cancer. However, working with fat is difficult because fat cells are hard to grow in the large numbers needed for complex experiments, which means that research on fat is often done using experiments on mice.

In her project, Evie built a model of fat tissue using a unique human cell line that has been found to grow prolifically, to investigate how communication between fat tissue and cells of the colon cause an increased risk of developing cancer.

This model could provide researchers with a resource that will enable them to study how interactions between fat tissue and cancer cells determine cancer growth, instead of conducting experiments on mice.

Page last modified on June 13, 2019 12:21 pm

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Summer Student 2017: Shreya Asher

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Summer Student 2017: Shreya Asher

Shreya Asher, supervised by Professor Mike Philpott at the Animal Replacement Centre Queen Mary University of London, developed a skin cell culture model to better understand skin cancer and replace experiments on mice.

Large numbers of mice are used every years to investigate skin biology and disease. However, mouse skin is very different to human skin both in terms of thickness, number and size of hair follicles and sebaceous glands and lack of sweat gland, cell turnover, response to cancer agents and immunology.

In her summer project, Shreya helped to develop a prototype human skin model which is made using redundant human skin left over from cosmetic surgery and is widely available to researchers. The model can maintain normal skin structure and cell division and also maintains resident immune cells, which are usually lost within 24 hours of cell culture in other models.

Further validation of this model and acceptance by skin researchers would lead to drastic reduction in the use of animals for skin research – saving an estimated 3000 mice per year in the UK.

 

Page last modified on June 13, 2019 12:21 pm

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