Finding alternatives

We are improving the way that we carry out our animal research and actively seeking alternatives.

We've pioneered a number of initiatives to reduce the number of animals used in research around the world, including:

Lab-grown bone could change the way we test new medical treatments

Developing new medicines usually involves animal research - known as in vivo testing. However, a new approach developed by researchers at the University provides a way of developing some new medicines entirely in the laboratory - known as in vitro - that reduces the need to use animals in research.

Our researchers have developed a bone-on-a-chip system - a tiny chip containing living cells. The chip can be used to grow bone tissue which can then be used to test new potential treatments for diseased or damaged bones. The aim is that one day, the device could be connected to other organ-on-a-chip devices - such as the liver, heart, lungs etc - to create a human-on-a-chip that would remove the need for animal research in the development of new medical treatments entirely.

An illustration of the bone-on-a-chip system

Shared Ageing Research Models (Sharm)

The unique research facility is helping to accelerate revolutionary studies into ageing while at the same as reducing the number of mouse models required for the leading research.

Ageing is the major risk factor for diseases such as Alzheimer's, arthritis and cancer.

Insigneo

Sheffield has become the UK's principal centre for In silico medicine (also known as computational medicine) which is the application of in silico research to problems involving health and medicine, using computer simulation in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a disease.

More specifically, in silico medicine is characterised by modelling, simulation, and visualisation of biological and medical processes in computers with the goal of simulating real biological processes in a virtual environment.

This is almost certainly the most sophisticated application of computing technology in healthcare.

Tissue culture

We're at the forefront of exploiting tissue culture as an effective way of producing large amounts of high quality antibodies for medical research, reducing the number of animals needed.

We've received grants from the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research to fund further antibody-related research and for other work aimed at refining existing animal models of disease.