Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
20 Sep 2012
Helen Moore (Copyright: Helen Moore)
Helen Moore is a MRC-funded PhD student researching body clocks at University College London. Here she tells us why zebrafish are an ideal model for studying 24-hour rhythms.
Zebrafish have come a long way from their home in the Ganges River. Popular with aquarium owners, these colourful stripy silver and blue fish are becoming increasingly important to research.
Zebrafish began life in the lab as a common model for understanding development. They lay transparent eggs that can be easily collected and through which their developing organs can be seen. Check out this timelapse video of developing zebrafish.
Now research using zebrafish is improving knowledge in a long list of areas including cancer and tissue regeneration. Zebrafish develop tumours with a remarkable likeness to human ones, and so might be useful for screening anti-cancer drugs. Their amazing ability to regenerate and repair their tissue may help us to develop better treatments for damaged hearts. [...]
Continue reading: Why I use zebrafish in my research
12 Sep 2012
A mouse in a laboratory (Credit: Flickr/Rick Eh?)
Dr Ilaria Bellantuono of the MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Integrated Research into Musculoskeletal Ageing is one of the founders of ShARM (Shared Ageing Research Models), a new, not-for-profit facility aiming to boost research into ageing by encouraging scientists to share resources and information, including the mice they use in research. Here, Ilaria explains what ShARM is and why it is so important for researchers to get involved.
As we age, we become more likely to fall ill. As well as the effect on the individuals, illness in old age puts a great burden on society — a burden that will only get bigger as people live longer.
Research into ageing-associated diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease, is therefore very important. Mice share many of our genes and age in a similar way, so using older mice as ‘models’ for ageing-associated diseases is one of the ways that researchers learn about disease processes and test treatments. [...]
Continue reading: Accelerating ageing research
24 Jul 2012
Mark Prescott (Credit: DCS Studios, Copyright: NC3Rs)
Earlier this month the Home Office released its annual statistics on using animals in research, showing that the number of procedures increased by two per cent in 2011. But does this mean that efforts to implement the 3Rs (the replacement, reduction and refinement of animal use) are failing? Not at all, says Dr Mark Prescott, Head of Research Management and Communications at the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).
Many areas of biomedical research are dependent upon the use of animals. The NC3Rs is leading UK efforts to develop new ways of reducing this dependence on animals which can also bring wider benefits to biomedicine. Improved models, whether animal or non-animal, can lead to better research, the results of which can be translated into benefits for people such as more effective drugs.
Over the past eight years NC3Rs has committed more than £25 million in grants to scientists in universities and other research institutions. Research we’ve funded has reduced by many thousands the number of mice used to study diabetes and motor neuron disease, while providing insights into these conditions. Other work has refined procedures on rodents used as animal models of pulmonary embolism, systemic amyloidosis, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. We have many more examples of how our research investment has improved the use of animals in research. [...]
Continue reading: Getting the measure of animal use in research