Current Portfolio

The Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research (DHT) plays a leading role in funding and promoting the development of techniques and procedures to replace the use of animals in biomedical research and testing.

Following a rigorous peer-reviewed selection procedure we support, assist and award grants to scientists in universities, hospitals and research organisations to undertake projects of the highest scientific calibre and the best potential for the replacement of animals. These are our current projects:

Asthma - University of Manchester

Abnormal mucus production is a major feature of asthma, and other respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). This project will use a cell culture model of human airway to study mucus production in asthma, replacing experiments on rats, mice and guinea pigs.

Bone disease - Cardiff University

This project aims to develop two different 3D cell culture model systems to maintain human bone cells as co-cultures in vitro. These cell culture models will be used in the study of the cause of osteonecrosis in childhood leukaemia and the signalling between bone cell types following excess mechanical loading. Currently, research into bone disease uses large numbers of animals, including mice, rats, rabbits, pigs, dogs and sheep.

Brain cell imaging - Birmingham University

This project will develop the theory and practice of using non-invasive brain imaging techniques to show how the brain combines external stimuli with internal thought processes. The project will demonstrate the potential of this method with several brain imaging techniques to understand brain function replacing invasive experiments on monkeys, mice, rats and ferrets.

Brain infections - University of Liverpool

The aim of this project is to enable the testing of new treatments for viral encephalitis in vitro and to develop a cell culture model of the human blood-brain barrier to investigate viral brain infections, replacing invasive animal experiments.

Breast cancer - University of Leeds {link to}
This project is a comparative study of a new 3D cell culture model with the pathology observed in vivo, that establishes its suitability for the study of breast cancer. The suitability of the cell culture will be established by comparison of more than 200 samples of human breast cancer tissues and will be the basis for a new computer model of breast cancer, which will replace invasive animal experiments.

Brain research - University of Durham 

Using dual-site transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to shed light on the interaction of two areas of the human brain known to be involved in visual attention, this project will increase our understanding of how the human brain works and provide an alternative to invasive brain experiments on monkeys. It will also have implications for the treatment of psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia, and the consequences of brain damage.

Cystic fibrosis - University of Liverpool

This project involves in vitro studies of bacterial infections in cystic fibrosis to replace tests on rats with chronic lung infections and genetically modified mice. The project will investigate an artificial sputum medium for studying the behaviour of bacterial populations in response to challenge with antibiotics. These methods could help doctors to make better informed choices of antibiotic treatments and directly benefit cystic fibrosis patients.

Epilepsy - Newcastle University 

This project aims to replace models of epilepsy which use animal brain tissue with studies of live epileptic human brain tissue. Currently scientific studies of epilepsy use substantial numbers of animals, primarily rats and mice, and involve invasive brain studies.

Human pain control - University of Manchester 

This project aims to develop a brand new way to study pain and pain perception in volunteers and patients with chronic pain conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. This will lead to a better understanding of long-term pain, improved treatments and will replace painful experiments on rodents and monkeys.

Huntington’s disease - University of Sheffield

Research into Huntington’s disease is mainly conducted on animals, but results from these experiments have been conflicting and there have been no major therapeutic advances to date. This project will use human cell culture models to study the underlying cellular mechanisms that contribute to the disease and as a fast method of screening potential drugs, replacing animal tests.

Knockout tissues - University of York

This project will develop new methods to knockout (switch off) genes in human tissues grown in the laboratory, instead of in knockout mice. These “knockout tissues”, with specific gene disruptions, will be created from donated adult stem cells and used to unravel gene function in vitro, replacing genetically modified mice.

Nanoparticles - Nottingham University

This project will investigate the transport mechanisms of a variety of nanoparticles across human cell surfaces in order to understand how nanoparticles enter and distribute around the body in drug absorption. In vitro approaches will be used as the movement of nanoparticles into the body is highly dependent on the composition of the layers of cells and support structures found at the surface of the lungs and gut which are different in humans and animals.

Neurofibromatosis - Peninsular Medical School

This project will develop a human cell culture model of Neurofibromatosis 2 (Nf2), an inherited disease that causes multiple tumours of the nervous system from childhood. The new model will be used to identify new therapies and replace experiments in which slow growing tumours are induced deep in the bodies of mice.

Visceral pain - Barts & Queen Mary’s, University of London

This project will use human tissue from the bowel to study the firing of small sensory nerves in response to standard stimuli such as pressure and noxious chemicals. The project will develop a model that will show that drugs are effective in reducing responses to painful stimuli. By performing further detailed studies that could validate its use as a replacement for animal experiments, the model will also be able to be used as a platform for new drug testing.

Click here for more information on these projects.


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