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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

A platform to investigate multi-tissue crosstalk mediated by exercise induced soluble factors released from human skeletal muscle

a photo showing a glass slide being held by a scientist, near to a microscope

At a glance

In progress
Award date
January 2023 - December 2024
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Professor Mark Lewis
Loughborough University


  • Replacement
Read the abstract
View the grant profile on GtR



Why did we fund this project?

This award aims to develop a human multi-tissue model to investigate the impact of exercise on connected organ systems, replacing the use of mammals in some exercise studies.

Exercise helps prevent the risk and severity of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and dementia. The impact of exercise varies from person to person making it difficult to understand specifically why exercise is clinically beneficial. Mammalian models are used to determine the impact of exercise on organs such as the heart, pancreas, brain and bones. Studies in rodents are also typically performed in models of relevant diseases, which may require transgenic animals to be bred. Professor Mark Lewis and colleagues have previously developed an in vitro model of human skeletal muscles, which regenerates function after injury1. Mark will now use this model with protocols to mimic the impacts of exercise on the skeletal muscle and measure the signalling molecules released, specifically exerkines. He will then expand the model by adding bone to create co-cultures and administering exerkines to determine the impact of exercise and demonstrate the utility of this model in investigating tissue interactions.

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



  1. Fleming JW et al. (2020.) Bioengineered human skeletal muscle capable of functional regeneration. BMC Biology 18:145. doi: 10.1186/s12915-020-00884-3