Scientists given funds to reduce the use of animals in science experiments

First published in Education News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Health & Education Editor

DURHAM University has been awarded £74,993 to reduce animal use in science and improve animal welfare.

Dr David Weinkove, in Durham's School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, will use the money to fund a pilot study to produce proteins from nematode worms for research and therapeutic use.

The funding, which will be shared with Strathclyde University, has been provided by the UK's National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

In total NC3Rs has awarded 20 research and technology development grants, worth £4.8million to universities, specialist institutes and enterprises across the UK.

Parasitic worms secrete proteins that interfere with the immune systems of humans.

By understanding how these proteins work scientists believe they could use this knowledge to treat diseases caused by an overactive immune system, such as arthritis, eczema, asthma and irritable bowel syndrome.

Globally, worms used in this type of research are currently grown in rodents, though this work is not carried out at Durham University.

All projects involving animals at Durham University are strictly regulated.

Professor Chris Higgins, vice-chancellor of Durham University, said: "Studying animals in the laboratory can help us understand more about the physical interactions between different parts of the body, gain knowledge which can be applied to the study of human physiology, and ultimately aid discovery and development of medical treatments for conditions such as cancer and diabetes.

"However we are also committed to reducing the number of animals used in research and in seeking alternatives where possible."

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