Lord Dowding Fund for humane research


National Antivisection Society

Human model for cancer research

2 February 2012


In 2010, we awarded a grant to Dr Debbie Holliday and her team at the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine to validate and test therapeutics in a novel, all human, model of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a complex disease with several different molecular alterations involved in its development and progression. A comprehensive approach, taking this into account, is required to improve the efficacy of target-based therapy in breast cancer. None of the above can be easily or accurately replicated in animal models.

The primary aim of the project is to validate two novel in vitro models of breast cancer; a 3D cell culture model and a tissue slice model.

The 3D cell culture breast cancer model is the first to contain the 3 major epithelial (lining) and stromal (connective and supporting) components of the breast. The group have now extended their model, to include human ductal breast epithelial tumour cells, which form spheroid structures in culture similar to structures seen in breast tissue. Data produced so far is encouraging, and confirms that the 3D model is a good representation of living breast tissue.

The tissue slice model allows the validation of the 3D culture model, ensuring that it retains characteristics representative of the original tumour. The team have obtained samples of both normal and tumour containing breast tissue, and successfully cultured the samples for up to 7 days. These have been treated with different doses of two common breast cancer drugs.

The models will be validated against published data, to show that they provide data comparable with those observed in animal experiments, and thus are viable replacements.


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