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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 next generation in vitro 3D immune organoids system for studying vaccine-induced immune response and immune-ageing across the life-course

Portrait of Dr Qibo Zhang

At a glance

In progress
Award date
January 2023 - December 2024
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Dr Qibo Zhang
University of Surrey


  • Replacement
Read the abstract
View the grant profile on GtR



Why did we fund this project?

This award aims to develop an in vitro test for vaccine-induced immune responses using human lymphoid tissue replacing the use of some animals in vaccine immunogenicity testing.

There are few in vitro models currently available for vaccine efficacy studies and as a result vaccines are tested in challenge studies comparing immunised and control animals to demonstrate vaccine induced immunity. Such immunity can be predicted by immune cell activation and production of immune effector molecules, including antibodies. Dr Qibo Zhang and colleagues have previously showed that respiratory infection and vaccines are able to induce increased immune cell and antibody responses in adenoids and tonsils, also termed nasopharynx-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT). Immune cells can be isolated from tonsils removed during routine surgery and, working with an industrial partner, Qibo’s group will develop a 3D culture system to mimic NALT immune tissue in vitro to detect vaccine-induced immunity. His group will also build confidence in the model for investigating the immune-ageing related changes in immune responses and vaccine-induced immunity caused by ageing.

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