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Completion of a project (September 2018)
Validation of a novel cell-based approach to studying thyroidal physiology: Reduction and/or replacement of experiments with rodents.
Dr. Gerasimos Sykiotis, Endocrinology, Diabetology and Metabolism Department, University Hospital of the Canton of Vaud, Lausanne
The majority of studies of the various mechanisms that cause diseases of the thyroid involve the use of mice and rats. The aim of this project was to develop a thyroid cell system (follicle) in vitro which would enable the necessary experiments to be carried out without the use of laboratory animals. As functioning units, these cell systems (follicles) are characterised by a complex structure and are subject to complicated control mechanisms.
In collaboration with scientists from other countries, the research team succeeded in culturing such active cell groups in vitro and demonstrating that the latter could indeed produce functioning thyroid hormones. This now opens the way for further investigations concerning thyroid disease in vitro without the need to use laboratory animals, or at least to involve a far smaller number.
Project 146-15

Completion of a project (September 2018)
Development of in vitro 3D multi-cellular culture models to study the role of heterotypic cellular interactions in colorectal cancer invasion.
Prof. Curzio Rüegg, Faculty of Science and Medicine, University of Fribourg
At present the focus of research into the biology of colorectal cancer is on the interaction of the cancer cells with the body's normal cells such as blood vessel cells, connective tissue cells, immune defence cells, etc. These interactions are an essential part of the mechanism by which the disease spreads. It is difficult to create an experimental simulation of these complex cellular interactions in vitro, which is why laboratory animals are usually used in this type of research.
In order to reduce or even replace animal experimentation, the research team is proposing a new, 3-dimensional in vitro approach (organ-like model) which should make it possible to carry out more detailed analyses in vitro of the intercellular mechanisms involved.
The team have been able to obtain and validate the first promising data concerning blood vessel cells and connective tissue cells as well as creating an organ-like model in vitro. This new in vitro model has shown that it may well be used in the future for quantifying the risk of metastases in vivo.
Project 144-15

Completion of a project (September 2018)
An advanced in vitro model of pulmonary inflammation based on novel lung-on-a-chip technology
Prof. Olivier Guenat, ARTORG Center, Lung Regeneration Tech, University of Berne
Various types of lung disease, forms of pulmonary inflammation and associated lung oedema are frequently seen in human medicine and often prove to be terminal. As a rule, experiments aimed at investigating the pathophysiology behind these diseases and testing of new treatments involve severe suffering for laboratory animals.
The aim of this project was to develop a new in vitro system whereby the pathology of these diseases could be simulated by using "lung-on-a-chip" technology. The inclusion of the relevant inflammation parameters increases the complexity of this multi-cellular in vitro system. The authors of this project have succeeded in achieving their basic aims. It was also possible to include the inflammatory aspects, which play an important role in the pathology, in the lung-on-a-chip system. This makes the system especially relevant for further in vitro experimentation in this field.
Project 143-15

Completion of a project (September 2018)
Development of an in vitro potency assay for the Clostridium chauvoei vaccine: Replacement of the guinea pig challenge potency test
Prof. Joachim Frey, Institute of Veterinary Bacteriology, University of Berne
Black leg disease is an acute febrile illness seen in cattle and sheep that is caused by the Clostridium chauvoei bacterium. The disease causes extreme suffering and quickly leads to the death of the animals involved. Owing to the acute lethal progress of the disease, treatments are almost always ineffective. Protecting the livestock through vaccination would seem to be the most effective preventive measure. Guinea pigs are used to test the potential effectiveness of vaccines and in this process the guinea pigs are subjected to severe stress and pain.
The aim of this project was to develop a reliable in vitro test to replace the in vivo testing in guinea pigs. Prof. Frey and his team have succeeded in developing such an in vitro test which will render the use of laboratory animals unnecessary.
Project 136-13

Completion of a project (May 2018)
Combining computational modelling with in vitro cellular responses in order to predict chemical impact on fish growth
Prof. Kristin Schirmer, EAWAG, Dübendorf
Each year, hundreds of thousands of fish are used in legally required experiments to test for possible adverse side-effects of chemicals on the biologial growth of organisms or to identify any potential poisonous impact of new chemical substances intended for use in industry and in the home.
In this project a new computational model was developed for carrying out the corresponding tests in the future through calculations using a comprehensive database containing toxicity test data obtained in vitro from such fish. Furthermore, researchers should also be able to use the model to predict possible inhibitory effects on the growth of fish embryos, an established parameter for potential environmental damage.
Project 145-15

Completion of a project (May 2018)
Validation of human stem-cell pluripotency using a bioreactor-based culturing system instead of a murine model to effect the development of embryoid bodies into teratomas
Prof. Christian de Geyter, Department of Biomedicine, University Hospital, Basle
After stem cells from donor tissue have been isolated (or cultured) it is necessary to test whether these cells still retain the ability, which is typical of stem cells, to differentiate into various types of tissue (pluripotency). According to international guidelines, such testing for pluripotency of stem cells is normally carried out using mice whose immune system is non-functional.
Prof. De Geyter's research team have succeeded in creating a three-dimensional, bioreactor-based culturing system whereby stem cell candidates can be tested for the ability to actually produce the three germ layers.
Project 142-14

Completion of a project (December 2017)
In-vitro engineering of a human cell-based three-dimensional dynamic model of atherosclerosis
Dr. Benedikt Weber, Swiss Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University Hospital Zurich.
The most common cause of death among people in the western hemisphere is cardiovascular disease. In the majority of cases, the causes of the disease can be traced back to lesions in the arterial cell walls, so-called atherosclerotic plaque. At present, various animal models are used to investigate the origin of cardiovascular disease as well as for developing and testing new medication aimed at preventing/arresting or even curing the disease.
In this project, the research team have succeeded in developing a three-dimensional cell culture system from human atherosclerotic plaque (from material obtained following heart and blood vessel surgery) whereby the variety of cells involved in the disease are included in the model. The system is also capable of imitating the pulsatile blood vessel phenomena for simulating the biomechanical forces that play an important role in the origin of cardiovascular disease. This system provides a new biological "tool" for this vast research field that will help to avoid the necessity of using a large number of laboratory animals.
Project 135-13
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