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FAL research: biomaterials

This year, the world-renowned FRAME Alternatives Laboratory (FAL) celebrates its 30-year anniversary. Funded by an annual grant made by FRAME to support its work, the FAL is based at the University of Nottingham Medical School and aims to produce human-based research systems for medical research that are better and more relevant to humans than current animal models.

The FAL’s current cutting-edge research is based around three key pillars: neuroinflammation, the liver and biomaterials. Here, we explain the FAL’s biomaterials work, as well as the importance of the lab’s base at the University of Nottingham.


Biomaterials are usually made of multiple components and have been engineered to interact with biological systems and be compatible with biological tissue. Biomaterials can be natural or synthetic, alive or lifeless, and aim to enhance the behaviour of the cells being grown by replicating the natural scaffolds found in the body.

The FAL is currently researching ways to produce 3D and 2D materials that will provide an ideal environment for building cells. One project includes the creation of electrospun scaffolds – a synthetic biomaterial that can mimic cell architecture found in the human body. This will improve the quality and accessibility of in vitro models as viable alternatives to animals across a range of research areas.

University of Nottingham base

The FAL’s base at the University of Nottingham is of great importance to the lab, as FAL director Dr Andrew Bennett explains:

“We are proud to have a longstanding relationship with the University of Nottingham and strong links to the excellent medical school and clinicians working in the areas that we’re researching. The state-of-the-art facilities here mean our researchers have access to the latest equipment and technology, as well as enabling us to ethically source human tissue samples – which are fundamental to our work – predominantly from the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.”

Look out for our next FAL blog, which will focus on the future of the FAL.

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