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International 3Rs Prize now open for applications. £30k prize (£2k personal award) for outstanding science with demonstrable 3Rs impacts.

NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science

Developing a complex in vitro airway model to study respiratory viral pathogenesis, lung macrophage function and herpesviral vaccine vectors in pigs

Headshot of Dr Gyorgy Fejer

At a glance

In progress
Award date
January 2023 - January 2025
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Dr Gyorgy Fejer
University of Plymouth


  • Replacement



Why did we fund this project?

This award aims to replace the use of pigs in respiratory infection research using an in vitro macrophage system.

Bacterial and viral respiratory infections in livestock pigs are a concern for their health and welfare and a potential economic burden for farmers. Alveolar macrophages (AMs) are immune cells which patrol the lung, engulf foreign microbes and alert the immune system. Scientists are researching AMs to develop more effective control strategies and vaccines to tackle respiratory infection in pigs. Current experiments either involve infection of live pigs or use AMs collected from pigs in an air-liquid interface (ALI) model of the airway. In previous NC3Rs-funded work, Dr Gyorgy Fejer developed a method to grow unlimited numbers of mouse AM-like macrophages in vitro and shared this technique with other researchers, creating a repository of transgenic AM cell lines to support bacterial respiratory infection research. Building on this success, Gyorgy has also created similar pig macrophages and will now use these cells in an ALI model to replace the use of live pigs or pig-derived AMs. He will demonstrate the utility of the model by studying the replication of, and immune response to, two swine viruses, and test a new type of pig vaccine.

This award was made as part of the BBSRC/NC3Rs joint call for the development of next generation non-animal technologies (NATs).