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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
Infrastructure grant

SEARCHbreast: A virtual resource to facilitate sharing breast cancer materials and knowledge to benefit the 3Rs

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At a glance

Award date
February 2014 - August 2016
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Professor Valerie Speirs
University of Leeds


  • Reduction



This project will develop a searchable database of resources related to breast cancer that scientists can share to minimise repetition of animal studies and maximise the use of available in vivo data through meta-analysis.


Animals are used to address a range of questions about the development, metastasis and treatment of breast cancer. The UK has an active breast cancer research community and there is an opportunity to further apply the 3Rs by facilitating the sharing of data, models, materials and expertise. A web-based bioinformatics search portal will be developed to facilitate this, allowing researchers to mine and integrate in vivo data from a range of sources

Research details and methods

A secure, searchable database will be developed which can easily interface with other online cancer resources. It will include technical information on collecting and preserving animal tissue and study designs to minimise animal use for various breast cancer models. 



  1. Holen I et al. (2017). Models in breast cancer research: progress, challenges and future directions. Disease Models & Mechanisms 10(4):359-371. doi: 10.1242/dmm.028274
  2. Morrissey B et al. (2017). The Sharing Experimental Animal Resources, Coordinating Holdings (SEARCH) Framework: Encouraging Reduction, Replacement, and Refinement in Animal Research. PLoS Biol  15(1): e2000719. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2000719
  3. Blyth K et al. (2016). SEARCHBreast: a new resource to locate and share surplus archival material from breast cancer animal models to help address the 3Rs. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 156(3):447-52.  doi: 10.1007/s10549-016-3785-0 
  4. Carter P et al. (2016).  The SEARCHBreast portal: A virtual bioresource to facilitate the sharing of surplus animal materials derived from breast cancer studies. Open Journal of Bioresources 3(1):p.e4. doi: 10.5334/ojb.21
  5. Morrissey B et al. (2016). Introducing SEARCHBreast: a virtual resource to facilitate sharing of surplus animal material developed for breast cancer research. npj Breast Cancer 2(16020). doi: 10.1038/npjbcancer.2016.20
  6. Morrissey B et al. (2016). SEARCHBreast: a new online resource to make surplus material from in vivo models of breast cancer visible and accessible to researchers. Breast Cancer Research, 18:59. doi: 10.1186/s13058-016-0716-2  
  7. Speirs V (2016). Opinion: Reuse and Reduce. The Scientist Read the article
  8. Speirs V et al. (2016). SEARCHBreast: An online resource designed to increase the efficiency of using materials derived from breast cancer studies in animals. J Pathol 240(1):120. doi: 10.1002/path.4755
  9. Booth ME et al. (2015). 3-D tissue modelling and virtual pathology as new approaches to study ductal carcinoma in situAlternatives to laboratory animals : ATLA 43(6):377-83. doi: 10.1177/026119291504300605
  10. Morrissey B et al. (2015). SEARCHBreast Workshop Proceedings: 3D modelling of breast cancer. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals – ATLA, 43(6):367-75. doi: 10.1177/026119291504300604
  11. Speirs V (2015). Animal research: share surplus animal tissue. Nature 522(7555):156. doi: 10.1038/522156c