NC3Rs e-newsletter - June 2021

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June 2021

Side-by-side images of 3Rs Prize winner Dr Laura Pellegrini and cerebral organoids

Cerebral organoid model wins 3Rs Prize

Work on human cerebral organoids that could replace the use of mice in some aspects of neurological research has won the 2020 3Rs Prize, awarded by the NC3Rs and sponsored by GSK. The winning research by Dr Laura Pellegrini at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology represents a major scientific breakthrough because of the capability of these organoids to produce cerebrospinal-like fluid in vitro.


Dr Jennifer Ashworth at the University of Nottingham was also highly commended for her work on replacing Matrigel with non-animal-derived hydrogels that can be ‘tuned’ to replicate different in vivo environments in culture.


The recording of the announcement is now available to watch on YouTube.

Learn more

The June episode of the 3 Minute 3Rs podcast, coming out on Thursday 17 June, will focus on this year’s Prize-winning and highly commended papers. Subscribe now wherever you get podcasts to listen and get a monthly dose of the latest 3Rs research in your feed.

Listen and subscribe to 3 Minute 3Rs

Replacing animal models of bone degeneration and disuse with a micron‑scale organoid

New research by NC3Rs Training Fellow Dr Alexandra Iordachescu, published in npj Microgravity, provides insight into cellular processes in pathological bone loss using a human cell-based organoid model. This miniaturised in vitro system avoids the use of live animal models, which are often associated with significant suffering and are not always representative of pathological states.

Learn more

  Trabecular organoid
10 years of CRACK IT

Register: 10 years of CRACK IT webinar – Putting in vitro platforms at the heart of cardiotoxicity testing

Tuesday 13 July, 2-3pm (BST)


Interested in learning how human stem cell-based systems are reducing animal use in drug cardiotoxicity testing? Our next “ten years of CRACK IT” webinar will focus on the physiologically relevant cardiac contractility platform developed to address the InPulse Challenge. Speakers include Professor Chris Denning (University of Nottingham), leader of the project team, and Dr Peter Clements (GSK), lead industrial sponsor of the Challenge.

Register now

  InPulse in vitro cardiac contractility platform
10 years of CRACK IT product showcase: NephroScreen

Chip away at in vivo nephrotoxicity testing with NephroScreen

Earlier this month we showcased the NephroScreen human kidney-on-a-chip platform, developed by MIMETAS, as part of our ten years of CRACK IT webinar series. During the webinar, MIMETAS Project Scientist Dr Linda Gijzen shared how NephroScreen is replacing animal use in screening for drug-induced nephrotoxicity, how the system was validated with compounds provided by industry sponsors, and how MIMETAS is delivering further 3Rs products for assessing neurotoxicity and immunomodulation.

Watch the recording

NephroScreen addresses the limitations of current 2D cell culture and animal models, offering improved predictability for both medium- and high-throughput drug screening by modelling the renal tubular injury observed in nephrotoxicity. Its proprietary OrganoPlate® platform contains up to 96 tissue culture chips and can be used for a variety of basic and applied studies of the kidney.

Why switch to NephroScreen?

  • More human relevant: the system uses OrganoPlate® as the basis for physiologically relevant 3D human tissue and disease models.
  • Ideal for prolonged exposure studies: leak-tight barriers can be maintained for several days.
  • Easy to use: NephroScreen is as easy as 2D culture, without pumps and ready for automated workflows.

Learn more about NephroScreen

Register: Virtual demonstrations of the Experimental Design Assistant

In this series of events, Dr Esther Pearl (NC3Rs) will give a live demonstration of the Experimental Design Assistant, online software to help researchers design robust in vivo experiments that are more likely to give reproducible results. The demonstrations will be relevant to anyone involved in planning and designing experiments or teaching experimental design.


The first demonstration will take place on Wednesday 23 June at 4‑5pm (BST), with more scheduled in July and August.

Register now

  Webinar: Best Practice in Experimental Design

Single use of needles: how AWERBs can support refinements in practice

In our latest guest blog post Dr Sally Robinson, Director of Animal Sciences and Technologies (UK) at AstraZeneca, explores the role Animal Welfare Ethical Review Bodies (AWERBs) and other oversight bodies can play in ensuring refinements are put into practice. Sally shares how AstraZeneca's AWERB helped support the single use of needles as standard across the company and its global sites.

Read the blog post

  White mouse in nest

Tackling experimental design in your funding proposal

Funders are placing increasing importance on the methodology and experimental design in applications – including them as a foundation for your application demonstrates your ability to do rigorous science. To help applicants for NC3Rs funding provide the detail needed in their grant application, we have gathered resources and advice from our funding and experimental design teams and Grant Assessment Panel members. Check out the eight common pitfalls we have identified and ensure you give your proposal the best chance of success.

Read the blog post

  Scientists discuss experimental design

Focus on severe suffering with the RSPCA’s latest resource

Whether you are a researcher, technician, veterinarian, ethics committee member or regulator, it is important to consider how you can help reduce or avoid the use of severe procedures. The RSPCA has worked with LASA, LAVA and the IAT to produce a new website offering practical information and support on topics such as welfare assessment and humane endpoints, to help anyone involved in animal research put this key aspect of refinement into practice.

Visit the website

  Animal technician holding a rat (from RSPCA Focus on Severe Suffering website)