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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

Implementing an MEA platform in human neurones for studying age-related neural network dysfunction and testing dietary interventions


At a glance

In progress
Award date
February 2023 - February 2025
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Dr Robert Williams
University of Bath


  • Replacement
Read the abstract
View the grant profile on GtR



Why did we fund this project?

This award aims to combine human embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived neurons and microelectrode array technology to replace the use of some mouse models in neural network dysfunction research.

Cognitive decline and other symptoms of brain ageing are caused by a loss of connections between cells resulting in communication failure known as neuronal network dysfunction. This is typically studied in mouse models, with experiments performed both in vivo and ex vivo using cells isolated from the animal. However here are clear species differences in the response of humans and mice to neuroprotective interventions. Dr Robert Williams will develop an in vitro platform for studying neuronal network dysfunction mechanisms using human ESC-derived neuronal cells in combination with microelectrode array technology to record the neuronal network that forms. Robert will demonstrate the utility of the model by inducing age-related changes in the neuronal networks and testing the effect of various metabolites added to the cultures on preserving neuronal connections.

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