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Although controversial, animal research has allowed for many medical breakthroughs over the years. However, with modern technology is using animals in research always necessary? Come along to find out what alternatives are being developed by scientists in Cardiff.
Teething Problems: A Biological Approach to Dentistry
Infections associated with mineralised tissues teeth and bones are painful, can be caused by bacteria, and in many cases are better treated by targeting the site of infection rather than giving the patient antibiotics. How we investigate this requires good models instead of unnecessary animal studies, as these are rarely useful. I will talk about how our research has developed models of dental infection and repair by growing 3D slices of living tissue in the lab and how we use them to develop new treatments. It is a 3Rs approach to tackling toothache, gum disease and infected joints.
Living Light: Red or Dead
Living light from fireflies has long been utilised in biomedical research to visualise specific cells or organs in animals. However, natural ‘living light’ emits in the visible range, which is heavily absorbed by blood in mammals and so reduces how much we can see and how informative studies can be. We re-invented the system to emit colours spanning the visible to the near-infrared range. This is the next-generation of living light, or bioluminescence. This generation improves imaging and has the potential to light up multiple processes simultaneously.
Mluc - the first glowing mouse protein
The ability to image specific cells and tissues within living animals is crucial to scientific research. The light-producing protein from fireflies – firefly luciferase – offers one of the most sensitive, reliable, safe, and non-invasive tools for achieving this. However, firefly proteins are foreign to mice and their immune system destroys cells containing the protein after varying periods of time; this results in experiments requiring larger numbers of mice. We’re evolving a mouse protein into a luciferase that doesn't produce an unwanted immune response. The first ever mouse luciferase!