New technique could reduce animal use in gene study

September 26, 2015

Dr Gianni a dal-Negro, Director of Animal Research Responsibility at GlaxoSmithKline said: "As sponsor of this award, GSK are delighted to see such an innovative application of science to the 3Rs. This project demonstrates an originality in applying emerging stem cell science with genetics and immunology in a complicated disease. It will no doubt contribute to new understandings in diseases processes and drug discovery and improved animal welfare."

Dr Nichols and her collaborator Professor Anne Cooke have already made the NOD ES cells freely available to the research community, potentially reducing the number of mice used in type 1 diabetes research worldwide. They plan to use the -10k prize winners' grant to host researchers from other groups so they can learn the culture technique and it can be quickly and widely disseminated.

Dr Nichols said: "The technique for extracting the embryonic stem cells is very visual and therefore difficult to learn from written instructions. Getting researchers to visit us will help encourage quicker uptake of this new approach."

About 1 in 250 of the UK population develops Type 1 diabetes at some stage, usually as children or young adults. In Type 1 diabetes the body stops making insulin because the pancreatic beta cells are selectively destroyed, leading to a very high blood glucose level. Treatment to control the blood glucose level is with insulin injections and a healthy diet. Although the cause of type 1 diabetes is still not fully understood it is believed to be of immunological origin, but the development is thought to be governed by both genetic and environmental factors.

Source: National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)