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Funding for animal testing alternative

A researcher from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry has received an award of 94,365 (Sterling) from the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), for a pilot study to develop the lab-based creation of a type of mouse cell which could be used in place of the live animals for research related to infectious and allergic lung conditions.

Macrophages are crucial components of the immune system and play key roles in the body's defence against invading pathogens. Macrophages can be switched to perform different functions by chemical messengers produced by cells and tissues in response to infection. Some are switched to M2 macrophages which play a role in infections and allergic diseases such as asthma.

More needs to be understood about M2 macrophages if they are to play a part in effective therapies for infections. However, the cells acquired from live mice have a limited lifespan and require the repeated use of the animals.

Dr. Gyorgy Fejer will use the award to establish permanently growing, alternatively activated M2 macrophage cell lines in order to reduce the number of animals currently used to provide such cells for study. His work revolves around mouse lung macrophages which can be grown indefinitely and are available in practically unlimited numbers.

Compared with cell harvesting from a live mouse, the difference is striking: approximately 300,000 cells can be obtained from a mouse, whereas Dr. Fejer and his team can obtain 20-30 million cells from a single tissue culture flask.

This means that scientists who research asthma and pulmonary virus and bacterial infections can for the first time have access to almost limitless cells for study, without the need for live mice.

Dr. Fejer's award is one of several presented to scientists across the UK by NC3Rs for smart approaches to reduce animal use in science. It follows the publication by Dr. Fejer of related findings in the prestigious journal, PNAS Plus.


Contact: Andrew Gould
University of Plymouth

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