Reduction, refinement and replacement of animal experimentation

Starting with a seed grant from the National Centre for Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animal in Research  (NC3Rs), we are developing a combination of in vitro, in vivo imaging, and in silico technologies to reduce, refine, and partially replace animal experimentation. In a first NC3Rs grant, targeting the pre-clinical assessment of bone drugs, we used longitudinal imaging to reduce the number of animals involved, and modelling to improve the usefulness by adding in details on bone strength, instead of indirect outcomes. We are also exploring where modelling can be used to partially replace some of the experimentation arms, and/or reduce the duration of the studies. We have recently received a further grant from NC3Rs to extend these technologies, to further validate our technologies and to create a web-service that would allow other researchers to use them worldwide. Furthermore, we will also explore how these methodologies can be used to study the effect of osteoarthritis.

Combining tissue-engineering technologies to develop tissue-on-chip and organ-on-chip assays, with small animal in vivo imaging and sensing, and with advanced in silico modelling, we could tackle a number of 3R problems.

PIs: Dr Enrico Dall’Ara, Oncology and Metabolism; Prof Ilaria Bellantuono, Oncology and Metabolism; Prof Sheila Francis, Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease; Prof Jim Wild, Academic Radiology; Prof John Haycock, Dr Gwen Reilly, Material Science and Engineering.