Funding for alternatives to animal research nearly doubles compared to previous year

Funding of £4.5 million for 13 new projects that aim to replace, reduce or refine the use of animals in research and testing was announced today (29 July 2009) by the NC3Rs.

This represents nearly a £2 million increase on the £2.6 million awarded in 2008 and brings the Centre's investment since 2004 to nearly £12.5 million on 54 different grants.

The latest funding is for projects that range from research into the causes of cancer, motor neurone disease and Alzheimer's disease, to understanding what causes nausea. It also sees researchers harnessing the latest technologies, such as induced pluripotent stem cells, and investigating intriguing new alternatives to using animals in research and testing, such as snails, slime moulds and flies.

Dr Vicky Robinson, chief executive of the NC3Rs, said: "This is great news, particularly when you consider the recent increase in laboratory animal use in the UK. If we are to reduce animal use and at the same time continue to develop new treatments for diseases then we must engage the best minds and harness the best science and technology in this endeavour. That is what we are doing with the £4.5 million in 13 new research projects that the NC3Rs is investing in today. We are really pleased to be giving grants to scientists who are trying to develop treatments in major areas of concern such as cancer, motor neurone disease and Alzheimer's disease. If they can do this, and reduce their reliance on animal use then this has to be good news."

"To date we have awarded over 50 grants totalling nearly £12.5 million. This includes research using the latest stem cell technologies and some less conventional approaches using organisms such as slime moulds to study epilepsy. The UK continues to lead the way in efforts to reduce and replace the use of animals in research. These are exciting times for scientific research but we should not underestimate the challenge of finding alternatives to animal use. To succeed we need many more scientists to be actively involved."

There was a priority area in the 2009 funding scheme to replace animal use with invertebrate models and two projects were funded in this priority.

Information on projects funded:

  • Professor Qasim Aziz, Queen Mary, University of London. Refinement of animal studies on emesis by defining human biomarkers of nausea 
  • Dr Michael Emerson, Imperial College London. Reducing and replacing mouse use to model the human platelet response in vivo
  • Dr Berthold Gottgens and Dr Aileen Smith, University of Cambridge. Transgenic ES cell differentiation systems to replace transgenic mouse analysis of tissue specific regulatory elements 
  • Dr Majid Hafezparast and Dr Timothy Chevassut, University of Sussex. Development of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from mutant mouse models in order to reduce animal use 
  • Dr Susan Jobling and Dr Edwin Routledge, Brunel University, and Dr Catherine Jones and Dr Leslie Noble, University of Aberdeen. Of molluscs and men: the snail assay as an alternative to the Hershberger male rodent assay for the detection of androgens and anti-androgens 
  • Professor Mark Lewis, University of Bedfordshire, and Professor Linda Greensmith and Dr Vivek Mudera, University College London. Engineering fully functional, integrated skeletal muscle
  • Professor Ian Mackenzie, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Development and validation of in v tro methods for assaying cancer stem cell responses to therapeutic challenge 
  • Dr Kevin Moffat and Professor Bruno Frenguelli, University of Warwick. Drosophila as a model for Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Professor Hugh Perry and Dr Tracey Newman, University of Southampton. A compartmentalised chamber for the in vitro study and manipulation of axon degeneration 
  • Dr Johnny Roughan and Professor Paul Flecknell, Newcastle University. Assessing the welfare of mice used in cancer research 
  • Dr Vasanta Subramanian, University of Bath. iPS cells from ALS patients – towards replacing animal models for ALS 
  • Professor Susan Watson, Dr Richard Argent, Dr Anna Grabowska, Dr Rajendra Kumari and Dr Snjezana Stolnik-Trenkic, University of Nottingham. The human tumour micro-environment modelled in in vitro biomatrices and applied to cancer and drug discovery 
  • Dr Robin SB Williams, Royal Holloway University of London and Professor Matthew Walker, University College London. Replacing, refining, and reducing animal usage in epilepsy research using a non-sentient model 



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