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NC3Rs: National Centre for the Replacement Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research
Office-led project

Engineering tissue alternatives to animals

At a glance

Current contacts


  • Replacement
Researcher holding a tissue engineered model


Tissue engineering and stem cell approaches can replace animals in basic research and safety testing with scientifically robust alternatives. However, the clinical focus of tissue engineers means that these other potential applications of the technology are often overlooked.

We have developed a programme of work to raise awareness amongst the tissue engineering community of the potential for their models to replace and reduce animal use, and to support them in achieving this. This has focused on providing funding and opportunities for cross-sector and multidisciplinary collaboration between tissue engineers, life scientists, materials scientists, and chemists, for example.

Working with the BBSRC we have co-hosted workshops  to showcase examples where tissue engineering has enabled researchers to conduct their research without animals. We have also co-funded a joint priority call to support the development of tissue engineered models to replace animals in applications including asthma, kidney development and assessing efficacy of antifungal therapies.

We have hosted a speed-networking event to bring together tissue engineers from universities and small biotechnology companies with representatives from the pharamaceutical and chemical industries to explore potential partnerships, and the commercial uptake of the technology.

We will continue to support the tissue engineering and stem cell research community through funding research and providing opportunities for these technologies to be applied in our other programmes of work including models for asthma and monoclonal antibody development, and through our open innovation platform, CRACK IT.


  1. Holmes A, Brown R, Shakesheff K (2009) Engineering tissue alternatives to animals: applying tissue engineering to basic research and safety testing Regenerative Medicine 4: 579-592 doi: 10.2217/rme.09.26
  2. Westmoreland C, Holmes AM (2009) Assuring consumer safety without animals: Applications for tissue engineering Organogenesis 5: 67-72 doi: 10.4161/org.5.2.9128