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Alternative to lab animals

Sperm and liver cells as ‘lab animals” – that’s the idea behind two LiU projects that will receive special support from the Swedish Research Council (VR).

Over half of the SEK 14 million VR is investing in alternative methods to animal research, went to two projects at Linköping University. The research supported in the programme will build on what’s known as the “3-R” Principle:

  • Nathaniel D RobinsonReplacement
  • Refinement
  • Reduction

Nathaniel D. Robinson, senior lecturer in physics, will receive SEK 3.8 million to develop a microchip for the analysis of the influence of chemical substances on human cells such as liver cells. A co-applicant in the project is Carl-Fredrik Mandenius, professor of Biotechnology.

When medicines, cosmetics, and certain foods are to be tested, these tests are often conducted on lab animals. According to researchers the microchip technique could significantly reduce this need.

Heriberto Rodriguez MartinezHeriberto Rodriguez-Martinez, professor of reproductive technology and head of the newly-founded Centre for Biomedical Resources, will receive SEK 3.3 million to automate and evaluate a method where sperm from pigs or humans is used to detect harmful effects on the cell’s ‘energy factory’ – the mitochondria.

To detect and avoid toxic properties in future medicines, studies on lab animals are regularly used. One way of reducing the need for animals is to test the effects of substances on mature sperm that can be collected without injury or discomfort.

Text: Åke Hjelm

Related article: LiU – News & Events: SEK 39 million for medical research


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Last updated: 2012-12-10