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Congratulations to Dr Maria Herva-Moyano on NC3Rs David Sainsbury fellowhip award

Early-career fellowships awarded to develop methods that reduce animal use across Parkinson’s disease and inflammation research

Two early-career researchers have each received awards of almost £200k over three years to undertake research that will reduce the use of animals in medical research.

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3RS) David Sainsbury Fellowship scheme supports junior scientists in their transition to independent researchers. It ensures that some of the UK's best new scientific talent is engaged in research that develops alternative methods to animal experimentation and improvements in animal welfare, while at the same time addressing important scientific questions.

The fellows will focus on the development of an in vitro screen to search for existing drugs to re-purpose for Parkinson’s disease, and a computer-based mathematical model of the innate immune response. Dr Maris Herva-Moyana from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences and based at the Centre for Brain Repair was awarded one of the fellowships. 

Current treatments for Parkinson’s disease are only symptomatic and fail to halt disease progression, leaving patients increasingly disabled and affected by drug side effects over the course of their treatment. The NC3Rs fellowship funding allows for the development of a high-throughput in vitro assay to rapidly screen a library of existing pre-approved drugs and indicate their effectiveness as potential new treatments for Parkinson’s disease. The drugs will be screened to inhibit the generation of alpha-synuclein fibrils, a misfolded protein in the human brain, which is present in most cases of Parkinson’s disease.

Development of this fast and reliable screening process will allow for the detection of drug compounds that prevent this protein from misfolding and aggregating. It will remove the need to use mice for this research until the very final stage, where distress and suffering will be minimized since experimental data for the drugs already exists. Repurposing drugs for Parkinson’s disease in this way could drastically reduce the time and the number of animals required to develop a new drug, which is often 10-15 years and can involve the use of hundreds of animals.

For a full interview with Maria, please see more here

The NC3Rs is an independent scientific organisation, which leads on the discovery, development and promotion of new ways to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research and testing (the 3Rs). It is supported primarily by Government, but also receives funding from the charitable and industrial sectors. The NC3Rs has an annual budget of approximately £6.75 million and is the UK’s major funder of 3Rs research. Further information about NC3Rs activities and programmes can be found at

Adapted from NC3R press release

Posted on 01/07/2013

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