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Summer Student 2022: Fengjiao Zheng

Summer Student 2022: Fengjiao Zheng

Exploring animal free simulated lung fluid to develop lung toxicology models

Supervisor name and institution: Dr Laura Urbano, University of Hertfordshire

Project summary:

Inhalation is a major exposure route for humans, making toxicity testing essential. To this day, inhalation toxicity testing using mice and rats is the only available option for regulatory purposes, despite the recognition that such studies lack relevance to humans.
Recent efforts have been focused on developing alternative, cell-based models which avoid the use of animals and are more human relevant. However, these models are still lacking essential aspects such as the interactions between the materials to test and the fluids that cover the inner surface of the lungs. Such interactions can lead to changes to the particles after inhalation, leading to different toxicity compared to the initial “naked” particle.

For my project I will explore the effect of animal free simulated lung fluid on environmental nano and microparticles in order to develop better human relevant models for lung toxicology.

Animals project will replace: Mice and rats

Get to know Fengjiao…

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

I strongly believe that animal should not be used in research or to test the safety of products.  Initially, the animal’s rights are violated when they are used in research. Animals are exposed to experiments that are often painful or cause permanent harm or death, and they are never offered the choice of refusing to participate. The pain and suffering inflicted on experimental animals is not worth any potential advantages to human.  Further, animal experimentation is entirely unnecessary because effective alternatives are accessible.

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

This project and the additional training provided by the animal Free Summer School will further allowing me to kickstart my research career by improving my research, laboratory, critical thinking abilities, as well as the summer school offers the valuable opportunity that enables to networking with like-minded people that also have strong believes in animal free research.

How does your project fit in with your degree?

I am very dedicated to pursuing a career in research, development and analysis of medicine design, and the Studentship would allow me to gain the laboratory skills while also supporting the replacement of animals in science, a discipline that I am strongly committed to.

What are your future plans and career aspirations?

In addition, by work in nano and microparticles in this project will help inform my future research in the MSc pharmaceutical degree and future career in the research area towards nanoparticles for the lungs. I plan to gain more knowledge in drug research analysis, particularly polymers and nanotechnology by enrol for a Doctorate in pharmaceutics.


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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 July 7, 2022 12:56 pm