Could human tissue be used by researchers in place of animal models

Professor Peter Bradding from the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation is involved in a research project examining how to expand the use of human lung tissue to reduce the use of animal tissue in research.

An award of £400k has been awarded to project lead Professor Maria Belvisi from Imperial College London to support the study.

The award will support the development of a standardized approach for the collection, distribution and use of human lung tissue. An important aspect of the research will be to assess the viability of post-mortem lungs for research purposes, potentially massively increasing the amount of human tissue available. 

As part of the project Professor Bradding will contribute to the assessment of post mortem lung tissue for use in in vitro studies examining mast cell, airway smooth muscle and fibroblast function.

A recent survey was undertaken with the UK asthma research community to better understand the extent of human tissue use and the potential barriers to use. The results from this survey illustrated the need for fresh whole human lung tissue for research but also indicated the barriers to obtaining this tissue.

In response to this a grant application was submitted to NC3Rs to allow the formation of a strategic collaboration between academics and the NHS Blood and Transplant Tissue and Eye Services. The aim of which would be to open up a pathway to obtain fully ethically consented, human (normal and diseased) lung tissue for the UK scientific community, thereby reducing the need for animal tissue in research.

This collaboration will investigate lung tissue but could be expanded to include almost every tissue or organ type in the body.