Animal research


We strive to use alternative research methods wherever possible to replace the need for using animals.

Alternative methods include computer simulations, medical imaging, human volunteer studies and growing cells and tissues in the laboratory.

Case study: Computer model of the testis

Researchers in the University’s MRC Centre for Reproductive Health have developed a computer model of the testis to aid research into male fertility. The system simulates how cells and molecules within the testis interact for proper development and function. Researchers can use the computer programme to investigate the effects of hormones and other molecules on male fertility.

Case study: Stem cells from people with bipolar disease

Scientists have produced stem cells from skin samples donated by people with bipolar disorder and closely related conditions, as well as members of their family that are unaffected.  The stem cells can be turned into brain cells in the laboratory, enabling scientists to study how bipolar disorder affects biological processes in the brain. The cells are being made available to scientists around the world to boost research into the condition. Experts hope this will help to reduce, and in part replace, the number of animals that are used to study the illness.

Case study: Studying prion diseases in a dish

A new method of studying Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in a dish will notably reduce, and in some instances replace, the number of animals needed to study the illness. Experts at the University have devised a method of studying the abnormal proteins responsible for CJD – called prions – in specialised brain cells grown from stem cells. The advance paves the way for research to find treatments for the fatal brain disorder.

Case study: Pig stem cells could curb need for animal tissue

Researchers are developing a method of generating pig blood cells in the lab which could replace the need to use animals for certain aspects of research into important livestock diseases. A two-year study, supported by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), aims to better understand methods for generating  a type of white blood cell –macrophages – from pig stem cells in the lab.