'Mini-liver' advance for research

An international prize has been awarded for British research that could prevent many thousands of animals suffering in laboratories.

Scientists in Cambridge have grown "mini-livers" from mouse stem cells that can be used for testing new liver disease treatments.

The technique could reduce the number of animals needed to test 1,000 drug compounds by up to 50,000.

The £18,000 prize was awarded by the UK's NC3Rs centre that promotes advances in the 3Rs - the replacement, refinement and reduction of animals in research research.

By using the liver culture system I developed, we can test 1,000 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.

– Dr Meritxell Huch, from Cambridge University's Gurdon Institute

The team has further refined the technique using liver cells from rats and dogs, and is now looking at expanding the process to human cells.

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