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Summer Student 2021: Morwenna Oldfield

Summer Student 2021: Morwenna Oldfield

Development of a novel method to advance drug delivery in the eye.

Supervisor name and institution: Dr Felicity de Cogan, University of Birmingham

Project summary:

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in Europe and the US. Current therapies consist of monthly injections of antibodies into the eye delivered over several years. It unfortunately can have significant side effects, including infection and retinal detachment. There is a clear unmet need for topical applications that can be applied by the patient themselves without the requirement of a clinical environment.

Unfortunately, the eye poses significant difficulties to drug delivery as the structures of the eye intrinsically act as barriers to the penetration of drugs. The foremost of these is the cornea at the front of the eye.

In this project, Morwenna will build a cell-based membrane which will act as a model for the cornea allowing her to monitor how different drugs penetrate across the membrane and how delivery vehicles can be used to enhance the drug penetration. This work is essential to find novel ways of delivering drugs without relying on testing in animals.

Animals project will replace: Mice, rats and rabbits.

Watch Morwenna’s Summer School presentation…


Get to know Morwenna…

Why do you want to participate in animal replacement summer studentship?

I am enthusiastic to promote alternative approaches to end animal experiments as I strongly believe that animal research is morally wrong. Having a dog and looking after guinea pigs as a child, I am very aware that animals have feelings, they are not inferior to humans and should not have to suffer at our expense as part of laboratory testing.

How will the Summer Student Programme help to kick-start your career as an animal free researcher?

This studentship will enable me to develop my laboratory skills, and extend my knowledge on subjects I am interested in, as well as be an advocate for animal rights and championing animal free research in the future.

How does your project fit in with your degree?

By working on this project, I’m excited at the prospect of helping to develop novel animal free methods of delivering drugs to the eye. Not only should this improve experimental accuracy given the many differences between animal eyes and humans, it will also promote a new way of using human cells and in vitro (a process performed outside a living organism, e.g. in a test tube, culture dish) methods for future experiments.

What are your future plans and career aspirations?

Owing to COVID-19 restrictions, my laboratory experience has been limited, but working in a laboratory for the last 2 weeks of Easter term has made me appreciate how much I enjoy it and I am very keen to develop my research skills further. I have been working in the laboratory as a volunteer and I am now considering studying for an MSc or PhD Degree. Having undertaken a Biomedical Science degree I remain interested in the development of human disease and the development of new treatments and I really enjoyed learning about the anatomy of the ear and eye in first year.


You can take action for animals, by uniting with us now!

Many human relevant approaches have been introduced into the scientific world, but unfortunately, the use of animals in medical research is entrenched and institutionalised, with many researchers still viewing animal experiments as the gold standard. This is our time to make change happen. Our work is funded entirely by your generous support, so please make a donation today to help us free animals from laboratories for good.

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Page last modified on December 15, 2021 3:51 pm