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NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science
Project grant

A human 3D bone-sensory nerve co-culture model to investigate bone-derived pain


At a glance

Pending start
Award date
September 2023 - September 2026
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Professor Deborah Mason


Cardiff University


  • Replacement



This award aims to investigate bone-nerve interactions in pathological conditions using a human cell co-culture model replacing the use of animal models of bone pain.

Over 562 million patients worldwide experience bone-derived pain from conditions such as cancer metastasis, non-healing fracture, osteoporotic fracture or osteoarthritis. The complex signalling between bone and nerves which underpins bone-derived pain has proven challenging to model in vitro and there are no human-derived models of the sensory nerve - bone interface. Research typically involves injury, tumour, surgical or chemical induction of bone damage most often in mice but also in large animals. Professor Deborah Mason and Co-Investigators Mr Ryan Jones and Dr Sophie Gilbert will develop a human 3D bone-sensory nerve model, combining osteocytes and iPSC-derived nerve cells in a 3D matrix. They will then collaborate with industry partners to confirm its utility as a screening tool for drug discovery further replacing the use of animals in bone-derived pain studies.