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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 human vascularised pancreatic islet on a chip - VIOC


At a glance

In progress
Award date
January 2023 - December 2024
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Dr Victoria Salem
Imperial College London


  • Replacement
Read the abstract
View the grant profile on GtR



Why did we fund this project?

This award aims to develop a vascularised “islet-on-a-chip” to enable human tissue to be cultured in vitro and replace the use of animal tissue in longitudinal imaging studies in pancreatic islet function research.

Pancreatic islets are groups of cells that release hormones to maintain blood sugar levels. In diabetes, these cells become damaged or dysfunctional. Human islets cannot be biopsied or imaged for research due to the location of the pancreas, and islets post-mortem begin to deteriorate in in vitro culture after 24 hours. Islets can be isolated from rodents or, due to the small size of the animals, radiological imaging can be used in some studies. To extend the life and utility of donor human islets, Dr Victoria Salem will use blood outgrowth endothelial cells to develop a vascular network to sustain the islets in vitro. Multiple chip designs will be used to allow tissue to be sustained until it vascularises or so an islet can be placed into a pre-existing vascular network. Victoria will build confidence in the model and demonstrate its utility by determining islet function in health and disease.

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