13 / 11 / 2023
FRAME Announces Innovation Grant Awardees
In 2021, FRAME launched its new Innovation Grant stream to help fund innovative, pilot projects or proof of principle studies that will support the development of techniques, methods and knowledge that will help replace the use of animals in biomedical research.
We are delighted to announce the three successful projects selected from a strong pool of applicants this year.
Over the past 50 years, FRAME has been funding research which has supported the development and validation of non-animal tests that have not only directly replaced historic animal tests but helped develop new methods and techniques for the study of human disease, the safety testing of chemicals and cosmetics, and the development of new drugs. Over the past two years, through conversations with scientists in the field and research into current grant schemes, we identified a gap in funding specifically for early-stage research ideas that have the potential to not only reduce reliance on current animal research methods, but also – in many cases – provide new routes to obtaining more reliable human-relevant data that may increase scientific progress and understanding.
Following the first Innovation Grant call in 2021, we received numerous diverse and fascinating applications from various research areas, reflecting the demand for funding, particularly for early-stage projects. The panel had the challenging job of assessing which methods were the most innovative, interesting, and most likely to advance the replacement of animal research methods in line with FRAME’s mission. After much deliberation, a total of £29,000 was awarded to three projects which will be carried out in 2022.
The winning projects
The first project will be led by Dr Barbara Guinn at the University of Hull and aims to develop a new cell line for investigating early development of ovarian cancer. The cell line will use epithelial cells which are responsible for 80% of all ovarian cancers (other available cell lines do not all use these cells) to investigate the role of a protein the research team has previously identified as potentially playing a role in early-stage ovarian cancer development. If successful, their cell line could then be used to help develop non-invasive detection and treatment options for ovarian cancer. This project has been awarded a grant of just over £14,600.
The second project will be led by Dr Hisham Al-Obaidi at the University of Reading and has been awarded £6,500 to help create a non-biological model that more accurately represents the conditions of the human lungs specifically to study the effectiveness of inhaled antibiotics. The model is designed to predict the effects of these treatments more accurately in people with conditions such as cystic fibrosis and chronic pulmonary disease.
The third project received funding of just over £8,000 and is taking place at the University of Strathclyde, led by Dr Roger Domingo-Roca. This research will make use of modern 3D printing technology to create tissue -mimicking materials which can be used to recreate the physiology of the smallest blood vessels in the body with the aim of creating a more accurate model for investigating drug delivery to tissue. The researchers hope the model will aid the development of new ultra-sound driven cancer treatments.
Commenting on the Innovation Grant scheme, FRAME CEO Celean Camp said: “Following our grant call, we were delighted to receive many diverse and fascinating applications from various research areas. The panel had the challenging job of assessing which methods were the most innovative and likely to advance the replacement of animal research methods in line with FRAME’s mission. After much deliberation, a total of £29,000 was awarded to three pioneering projects, which will be carried out this year.”
Celean adds: “Supporting pilot projects is an important step in the path to developing and implementing non-animal methods and we are proud to be able to do this. We look forward to sharing the outcomes of the research with our supporters and the wider research community.”
To read about the projects in more detail, click on the project title below:
- Development of a cell line that represents early-stage ovarian cancer
- Development of a lung in vitro model to assess antimicrobial activity
- Development of cell-laden photopolymerisable materials for the development of physiologically relevant, three-dimensional microvascular systems to reproduce solid tumours
The Innovation Grant call for 2022 will open at the end of March and applications must be received by September. To find out more about the Innovation Grant eligibility criteria, visit the Innovation Grant Funding page.
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