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UK: NC3Rs GSK Prize for Meritxell Huch

Dr Meritxell Huch from the Gurdon Institute at Cambridge University received the UK’s international prize for scientific and technological advance with the most potential to replace, reduce, or refine the use of animals in science (the 3Rs) on February 26, 2014.


Dr Huch developed a method to enable adult mouse stem cells to grow and expand into fully functioning three-dimensional liver tissue. The model has potential as a high throughput screen for compounds to treat liver disease. Dr Huch and colleagues at the Netherlands’ Hubrecht Institute isolated Lgr5+ stem cells responsible for liver regeneration and cultured them to grow into small liver organoids, which survive and expand for over a year in vitro. When implanted back into mice with liver disease they continued to grow, ameliorating the disease and extending the survival of the mice. Having further refined the process using cells from rats and dogs, Dr Huch is now moving onto testing it with human cells, which would not only be more relevant to research into human disease, but also translate to the development of a patient’s own liver tissue for transplantation.


The NC3Rs awards an annual prize for an original contribution to scientific and technological advances in the 3Rs (re­placement, reduction and refinement of animal use) in medical, biological or veterinary sciences published within the last three years. Sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, the prize consists of a prize grant of £ 18k, plus a personal award of £ 2k, and is part of the NC3Rs’ commitment to recognize and reward high quality research that has an impact on the use of animals in the life sciences. Highly-commended prizes consist of a grant of £ 4k, plus a personal award of £ 1k.


Huch, M., Dorrell, C., Boj, S. F., et al. (2013). In vitro expan­sion of single Lgr5+ liver stem cells induced by Wnt-driven regeneration. Nature 494, 247-250.



Adapted from NC3Rs website

Posted February 26, 2014


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