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Michael Balls Award 2020 winners announced

The Michael Balls Award is presented by FRAME in recognition of Professor Michael Balls’ outstanding dedication to its scientific journal ATLA during his 37 years as Editor-in-Chief.

Michael Balls
Professor Michael Balls

The annual award is given to the author(s) of the article in the previous year’s volume of ATLA which, in the opinion of the Associate Editors and Editorial Board, is likely to make the most significant contribution to the reduction, refinement and/or replacement of animal experimentation.

The 2020 Award, for the best article published in the 2020 volume of ATLA, has been won by Adrián García-Salvador, Alazne Domínguez-Monedero, Paloma Gómez-Fernández, Amaia García-Bilbao and Felipe Goñi-de-Cerio (from GAIKER Technology Centre, Basque Research and Technology Alliance (BRTA), Basque Country, Spain) and their collaborators Susana Carregal-Romero (from CIC biomaGUNE, BRTA, Basque Country, Spain) and Joaquín Castilla (from CIC Biogune, BRTA, Basque Country, Spain).

Their paper, ‘Evaluation of the influence of astrocytes on in vitro blood–brain barrier models’, was published in ATLA 48(4), 184–200.

The research group specialises in the development of in vitro models of different physiological barriers, such as the blood–brain barrier (BBB), pulmonary barrier and intestinal barrier, with a clear orientation toward the development of robust in vitro models according to the 3Rs principles.

The lead author recently provided ATLA with an update on the project: “In the submitted paper, we set up and characterised 20 different BBB in vitro models, based on the combination of epithelial or endothelial cell lines and primary or immortalised astrocytes/ glial cells or their derivatives. Our research group continues its work on the development and improvement of in vitro models of the BBB, levelling up to a tri-culture model. For this aim, the group has selected different cell lines and primary cultures of microvascular, perivascular endothelial and astroglia cells, to perform and compare different in vitro BBB models to select the most reliable model.

“Currently, we have two research lines in progress. On one hand, we are assessing the permeability of new drugs against prion diseases in a high-throughput screening study with the in vitro EPA BBB model. On the other hand, we are planning to improve this tri-culture model with a more animal friendly source of cells, such as human iPS cells in combination with specific differentiating protocols.” 

For further information about ATLA, visit the website here.

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