BBSRC, NC3Rs and UKRI invest £4.7M in the development of non-animal technologies
Supporting 24 new projects focusing on alternatives to in vivo models in bioscience research.
Building on a strong track record of collaboration, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the NC3Rs have committed £3.7M through a joint call to develop the next generation of non-animal technologies (NATs).
A further £1M was invested by UKRI as part of its strategic ambition to secure better health, ageing and wellbeing through the development of non-animal technologies to support ageing research.
Researchers highlighted a need for NATs that better model complex physiology through a recent survey report published by BBSRC and the Physiological Society. The new joint call aims to address this need by combining BBSRC’s remit to fund tools and technologies underpinning biological research with the NC3Rs mission to pioneer better science by supporting predictive, reproducible and cost-effective alternatives to the use of animals in research.
The awards made cover a wide range of disciplines and model types including human stem cell organoid systems, vascularised organ-on-a-chip models and novel in silico frameworks. Each award will focus either on the development of new NATs or enhancing confidence in existing technologies through improving the physiological relevance, throughput or breadth of application of current models. A third of all awards made through the joint call also include an Industrial Project Partner to help address the lag between the development of a new technology and its adoption into routine use, and to stimulate the translation and commercialisation of NATs.
Dr Amanda Collis, Executive Director for Research Strategy and Programmes at BBSRC, said:
“BBSRC welcomed the opportunity to work in partnership with NC3Rs to deliver this strategic programme. This latest investment builds upon our well-established relationship and collaborative history of joint funding to drive research and innovation in the 3Rs while further enhancing our understanding of the fundamental biological mechanisms of healthy systems across the whole life course.
The 24 projects supported by our investment offer great potential to deliver tangible impacts that improve human and animal health including ageing.
It will lead to reductions in the number of animals used for research and improve reproducibility of novel NATs. Furthermore, by engaging industry partners in this programme of work, there is a very real opportunity to make significant progress around the translation and commercialisation of non-animal technologies.”
Dr Cathy Vickers, Head of Innovation at the NC3Rs said:
“We are delighted to announce these exciting awards made in collaboration with BBSRC that evidence the potential for non-animal technologies to deliver a step change in bioscience research and reduce animal use.
The range of technology approaches we have funded is underpinned by the strength of expertise in non- animal technologies across the UK and the industry partnerships formed will be a key enabler to drive them into real world application.
We are looking forward to working with our grant holders and helping them to maximise their success.”
BBSRC/NC3Rs joint call: development of next generation NATs awards
- Professor Clare Blackburn, University of Edinburgh – A high-throughput-compatible animal-cell-free miniaturised thymic organoid model for thymus biology studies and in vitro T cell production (£198,668)
- Professor John Brameld, University of Nottingham – In vitro digestibility - reducing animal use whilst meeting the demand to evaluate alternative proteins (£191,029)
- Dr Anthony Buckley, University of Leeds – RoboHog: developing an in vitro gut model system of the porcine hindgut (£199,960)
- Dr Gyorgy Fejer, University of Plymouth – Developing a complex in vitro airway model to study respiratory viral pathogenesis, lung macrophage function and herpesviral vaccine vectors in pigs (£199,927)
- Dr Fabrice Gielen, University of Exeter – A high-throughput spheroid fusion platform for the templated-assembly of 3D neuromuscular junctions (£194,745)
- Dr Nicholas Hannan, University of Nottingham – Understanding mechanisms driving lung disease caused by environmental particulate matter (£199,740)
- Dr Alison John, Imperial College London – Developing a lung organoid signalome for real-time analysis of senescence-associated cellular cross talk (£198,047)
- Dr Sarah Jones, Manchester Metropolitan University – A human ex vivo model of haemostasis: A replacement for rodent tail bleeding assays (£198,933)
- Professor Martin Knight, Queen Mary University of London – Production of a human growth plate organ-chip model of skeletal development (£199,987)
- Professor Mark Lewis, Loughborough University – A platform to investigate multi-tissue crosstalk mediated by exercise induced soluble factors released from human skeletal muscle (£199,208)
- Professor Roisin Owens, University of Cambridge – A novel approach for modelling the healthy nose-brain axis in vitro (£199,877)
- Dr David Richards, University of Exeter – A novel in silico framework for early mammalian embryo development (£199,982)
- Dr Victoria Salem, Imperial College London – Developing a human vascularised pancreatic islet on a chip (VIOC) (£199,911)
- Dr Kirill Volynski, University College London – Novel in vitro platform to study molecular mechanisms of neurotransmitter release and synaptic plasticity (£198,945)
- Dr Qibo Zhang, University of Surrey – Developing a next generation in vitro 3D immune organoids system for studying vaccine-induced immune response and immune-ageing across the life-course (£199,997)
- Dr Emma Blain, Cardiff University – Testing and validation of an in vitro 3D human chondrocyte model to replace animal use in mechanobiology research (£197,230)
- Professor Sue Kimber, University of Manchester – Advanced human pluripotent stem cell kidney organoid model for investigating development and disease (£199,836)
- Dr Tilo Kunath, University of Edinburgh – Establishment of a cryo-bank of lineage-committed neural progenitor cells produced from engineered human pluripotent stem cells (£199,934)
- Professor David Lee, Queen Mary University of London – Engineering circadian biology into induced pluripotent stem cell organ-on-a-chip models (£199,775)
- Dr Joana Neves, King's College London – Human organoid model to generate mucosal immune cell populations (£195,610)
- Professor Jennifer Nichols, University of Edinburgh – Optimising human stem cell models to decipher signals and responses during organogenesis (£196,734)
- Dr Malgorzata Wiench, University of Birmingham – Epithelial barrier model: in silico modelling and high throughput assessment (£199,859)
- Dr Robert Williams, University of Bath – Implementing an MEA platform in human neurones for studying age-related neural network dysfunction and testing dietary interventions (£174,952)
- Dr Beata Wojciak-Stothard, Imperial College London – Organ-on-a-chip model of pulmonary arterial cell-cell interactions (£199,660)
Further details of the aim and scope of this joint call.