Success stories

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.

Here are just a few of the success stories that have resulted from our funding:

Alzheimer’s Disease

Ground-breaking research at Manchester University, utilising human brain tissue, has shed light on the risk factors involved in developing Alzheimer’s disease. DHT-funded scientists identified two types of virus associated with the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers with results showing that anti-viral drugs could provide a way of slowing the deterioration of sufferers.


The latest hi-tech fibre optic bronchoscopy techniques enabled DHT-funded researchers at Manchester University to harmlessly collect tiny samples of lung tissue from asthmatic patients and healthy volunteers. By studying actual human tissues rather than trying to mimic human tissues in animals, DHT-funded researchers identified key differences between asthmatic and healthy lung tissue, providing new insights and possibilities for potential new treatments.

Brain Research

DHT-funded research at Oxford University led to the development of a new and innovative technique to study the human brain called TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation). TMS safely and temporarily disrupts the functioning of the human brain, enabling non-invasive and more human-relevant investigations into specific areas of the brain without using animals. Scientists at Oxford are actively teaching the new technique to others and increasing the use of TMS as an alternative to animal experiments.

Breast Cancer

DHT-funded researchers at Leeds University developed an entirely novel 3D human cell culture model of a type of breast cancer called DCIS, which accounts for up to 40% of all breast cancer cases. This new model is used to study how breast cancer progresses and provides a cost-effective alternative to animal experiments that do not reliably model the human disease. The cell culture model closely replicates the human condition and is already opening new avenues of research.

Cancer Therapy

The DHT funded a specialised piece of equipment at Cambridge University called a Fluoroskan, which resulted in the development of a miniaturised cell culture technique for rapidly assessing the effectiveness of new anti-cancer drugs without using animals. The research also had direct clinical benefits. Tiny fragments of tumour tissue taken from cancer patients for diagnosis can be used in vitro to find more patient-relevant treatment combinations.
A powerful computer which was also funded by the DHT, was used to develop mathematical models at Glasgow University. It predicted the best combination of treatments and treatment strategies for neuroblastoma (a childhood cancer of the nervous system) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, replacing the need for animal testing.


DHT funding helped researchers at Dundee University to culture human lens cells that thrive in laboratory dishes and can be used in place of animals in cataract and eye development research. More than 40 cataract cell lines and 10 normal cell lines have been developed and those cell lines have been distributed worldwide to other research groups to use in place of animals.

Dental Research

DHT funding was critical to Cardiff University in the development of a 3D computer model of human teeth and jawbone for use in dental research in place of animals. The computer model, based on measurements made from human volunteers and now also being used in Japan and Germany, was the first to predict the responses of human teeth to dental treatments such as surgery or braces.


DHT funding at Birmingham University enabled a pure strain of cultured human pancreatic cells to be established that could survive in culture in the laboratory for long periods and continue to produce insulin, eliminating the use of rodents.

The DHT also funded research at Exeter University into the development of Laser Doppler Perfusion Imaging, a safe and non-invasive technique, which directly investigates circulation in tiny blood vessels in human volunteers and allowed reactions of human blood flow to chemicals to be measured for the first time. It provided valuable information on the blood circulation of diabetics to better our understanding of the serious complications that can lead to blindness and kidney failure.

Diet and Health

DHT funding enabled the first-ever definitive 10-year study of the effect of diet on health at Oxford University. Using epidemiology (population research), the study monitored thousands of human volunteers, rather than animals, to compare levels of illness and death.

Drug Development

With 9 out of 10 new drugs failing in human trials, the DHT funded research at Manchester University in the development of computer models to predict the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) characteristics of a drug in vitro. The computer software, called SIMCYP, is accelerating the process of drug discovery and development, helping to replace animal tests and reducing the risk to human patients. It is now used globally by pharmaceutical companies, leading academic institutes and regulatory authorities.


The DHT helped sponsor the NORINA database, the biggest single source of information on alternatives in education. It contains details of over 3,800 audiovisual aids and other alternatives to using animals in education and is freely available via the internet to lecturers, teachers and students worldwide.

DHT funding enabled the humane research group, InterNICHE, to produce a video that demonstrates the value and use of alternatives in higher education. The video was distributed to teachers, students and campaigners worldwide and shown at national and international conferences. DHT funding has also enabled InterNICHE to hold conferences to demonstrate the use of animal alternatives and to train local representatives in their use.

Foetal Studies

Equipment funded by the DHT enabled researchers at Southampton University to develop a computer model of the human placenta and foetus, which is used to investigate the effects of certain heart defects and various placental malfunctions. The model, called Fetal Charlotte, explains changes in blood-flow patterns seen in pregnant women developing pre-eclampsia, which affects 1 in 20 pregnant women.

Heart Disease

DHT-funded scientists at Southampton General Hospital successfully developed safe methods of studying the arteries of young children, whose growth had been followed since birth. The results have helped explain why sufferers of heart disease and stroke are more likely to have been small at birth.

Irritancy Eye Testing

The DHT funded the first-ever research at Leicester University into replacing the Draize eye test, a test where chemicals are tested for irritancy by dripping them into the eyes of rabbits. The annual number of rabbits used in the UK for eye irritation tests has declined by over 90% as a result of using the alternative.

Liver Disease

At Newcastle University, DHT funding led to the development of a simple non-invasive test for a form of life-threatening liver disease by using a patient’s saliva. Human cell cultures were used to provide new information about the cellular and molecular mechanisms of the illness. This innovative test monitored the progress of the disease and the effects of treatments.


DHT-funded research validated a new, pioneering brain imaging technique developed by Aston University called Magnetoencephalography (MEG) that can be used to effectively and reliably study the human brain. MEG non-invasively detects activity in the human brain to study vision, hearing, epilepsy, brain injury, pain and neurological illness, without using animals. MEG has also increased our understanding of human vision and photosensitive epilepsy in children.


As an alternative to animal studies, DHT funding at Nottingham University enabled the development of a novel system for studying how Neisseria meningitidis, the bacteria responsible for Meningitis, interacts with human cells in culture. This research demonstrated that an understanding of how N. meningitidis interacts with the natural host cells of the human meninges (membrane that surrounds the brain) can provide clues to vital new treatments and prevention strategies.

Microbial Investigation

Novel analytical techniques that can be used to identify disease-causing microbes were developed at the Public Health Laboratories in London with DHT funding. The non-animal technique uses a pulse of laser light to generate a unique ‘fingerprint’ pattern for each type of microbe that can then be used to identify disease-causing culprits. The new technique can identify different forms of bacteria revealing important new information about infectious bacteria.

Nerve & Muscle Disorders

DHT funding for NIBSC (National Institute for Biological Standards and Controls) enabled researchers to develop an in vitro method for assessing Botulinum, a toxin used for treating severe nerve-muscle disorders, without using animals.

Pain Research

DHT funding allowed researchers at Manchester University to develop a laser pain stimulator that can be used alongside brain imaging techniques, such as EEG, PET and fMRI, to non-invasively and safely study pain and the activity of the brain in humans during stimulation, without the use of animals. This method is now used to identify areas of the brain involved in processing human pain and in studies of patients with rheumatic pain.


DHT-funded researchers at Manchester University pioneered techniques to enable the culture of human cartilage tissue outside the body, in laboratory dishes. This enabled research into rheumatism without the use of animal tests. The culture techniques were extended to include the laboratory study of other tissues from human patients, which resulted in the discovery of chemical and structural changes that occur in rheumatism. The research resulted in the first detailed understanding of how steroid and anti-malarial drugs, used to treat rheumatism, actually work and this knowledge has assisted researchers to develop better rheumatism treatment without the unpleasant side effects of steroids.

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