Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Biomolecular Screening
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Mini-Livers Show Promise to Reduce Animal Use in Science

Published: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Using this method, cells from one mouse could be used to test 1000 drug compounds to treat liver disease, and reduce animal use by up to 50,000.

Research that has for the first time successfully grown "mini-livers" from adult mouse stem cells has won the UK's international prize for the scientific and technological advance with the most potential to replace, reduce or refine the use of animals in science (the 3Rs).

Dr Meritxell Huch from Cambridge University's Gurdon Institute, who tonight receives the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) 3Rs Prize, has developed a method that enables adult mouse stem cells to grow and expand into fully functioning three-dimensional liver tissue.

Growing hepatocytes (liver cells) in the laboratory has been attempted by liver biologists for many years, since it would reduce their reliance on using mice to study liver disease and would open up new opportunities in medical research and drug safety testing. Until now no laboratory has been successful in deciphering how to isolate and grow these cells.

Liver stem cells are typically found in a dormant state in the liver, only becoming active following injury to produce new liver cells and bile ducts. Dr Huch and colleagues at the Netherlands' Hubrecht Institute located the specific type of stem cells responsible for this regeneration, which are recognised by a key surface protein (Lgr5+) that they share with similar stem cells in the intestine, stomach and hair follicles.

By isolating these cells and placing them in a culture medium with the right conditions, the researchers were able to grow small liver organoids, which survive and expand for over a year in a laboratory environment. When implanted back into mice with liver disease they continued to grow, ameliorating the disease and extending the survival of the mice.

Having further refined the process using cells from rats and dogs, Dr Huch is now moving onto testing it with human cells, which would not only be more relevant to research into human disease, but also translate to the development of a patient's own liver tissue for transplantation.

Commenting on the new method's potential to reduce animal use in liver research, Dr Huch said:

"Typically a study to investigate one potential drug compound to treat one form of liver disease would require up to 50 live animals per experiment, so testing 1000 compounds would need 50,000 mice. By using the liver culture system I developed, we can test 1000 compounds using cells that come from only one mouse, resulting in a significant reduction in animal use. 

"If other laboratories adopt this method then the impact on animal use in the liver research field would be immediate. A vast library of potential drug compounds could be narrowed down to just one or two very quickly and cheaply, which can then be tested further in an animal study."

Dr Vicky Robinson, Chief Executive of the NC3Rs said:

"Growing functioning liver cells in culture has been the Holy Grail for liver biologists for many years, so a limitless supply of hepatocytes could have a huge 3Rs impact both on basic research to understand liver disease and for the screening and safety testing of pharmaceuticals. Researchers need to utilise this alternative technology as soon as possible to ensure the benefits to animals and human health are fully realised."

Professor Kevin Shakesheff, Director of the UK Regenerative Medicine Hub in Acellular Materials, said:

"The work of Dr Huch and team demonstrates how three-dimensional culture and molecular biology combine to open new possibilities in the regeneration of complex tissues. The liver is an excellent target for this work as the human body has an ability to regenerate liver tissue that is very hard to replicate in the lab. Unlocking new mechanisms to generate functional liver creates therapeutic approaches for patients with liver disease or injury and could offer a route to high quality human liver models that enhance drug development."

Two other research papers were highly-commended by this year's 3Rs Prize.

Dr Gyorgy Fejer, Plymouth University, was recognised for the development of a new method to grow macrophage cells for use in infectious disease research, which would reduce the use of mice by many thousands.

Also recognised is work by Dr Daniel Adams, University of California San Francisco, which takes inspiration from human orthopaedics to develop a biocompatible, titanium skull implant to reduce infection risk and improve welfare in monkeys undergoing cognition studies where brain activity is monitored directly.

Dr Malcolm Skingle CBE, Director of Academic Liaison at GlaxoSmithKline, which sponsors the 3Rs Prize, said:

"This competition highlights some of the best international science to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research and GlaxoSmithKline is delighted to continue to sponsor this important award. Promoting innovative technologies and approaches to a global audience in this way can help improve their uptake and advance the global 3Rs agenda for better medicines and reduced animal use."


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
Liquid Biopsies: Utilization of Circulating Biomarkers for Minimally Invasive Diagnostics Development
Market Trends in Biofluid-based Liquid Biopsies: Deploying Circulating Biomarkers in the Clinic. Enal Razvi, Ph.D., Managing Director, Select Biosciences, Inc.
Lab-on-a-Chip Offers Promise for TB and Asthma Patients
A device to mix liquids using ultrasonics is the first and most difficult component in a miniaturized system for low-cost analysis of sputum from patients with pulmonary diseases such as tuberculosis and asthma.
Protein Related to Long Term Traumatic Brain Injury Complications Discovered
NIH-study shows protein found at higher levels in military members who have suffered multiple TBIs.
Urine Proteins Point to Early-Stage Pancreatic Cancer
A combination of three proteins found at high levels in urine can accurately detect early-stage pancreatic cancer, researchers at the BCI have shown.
Researcher Discovers Trigger of Deadly Melanoma
New research sheds light on the precise trigger that causes melanoma cancer cells to transform from non-invasive cells to invasive killer agents, pinpointing the precise place in the process where "traveling" cancer turns lethal.
Crystal Clear Images Uncover Secrets of Hormone Receptors
NIH researchers gain better understanding of how neuropeptide hormones trigger chemical reactions in cells.
New Tool Uses 'Drug Spillover' to Match Cancer Patients with Treatments
Researchers have developed a new tool that improves the ability to match drugs to disease: the Kinase Addiction Ranker (KAR) predicts what genetics are truly driving the cancer in any population of cells and chooses the best "kinase inhibitor" to silence these dangerous genetic causes of disease.
HIV Susceptibility Linked to Little-Understood Immune Cell Class
High levels of diversity among immune cells called natural killer cells may strongly predispose people to infection by HIV, and may be driven by prior viral exposures, according to a new study.
Sweet Revenge Against Superbugs
A special type of synthetic sugar could be the latest weapon in the fight against superbugs.
Access Denied: Leukemia Thwarted by Cutting Off Link to Environmental Support
A new study reveals a protein’s critical – and previously unknown -- role in the development and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing and extremely difficult-to-treat blood cancer.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!