Brain research without animal testing

03 Sep 2018 | Back to News, Publications and Annual Reports

New culture systems for certain types of brain cell

The death of nerve cells in the brain is responsible for diseases likes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, also referred to as ‘neurodegenerative diseases’. This fact originally prompted much research to focus on these nerve cells. However, in recent years, it has become increasingly clear that a different cell type plays a key role in disease progression: the brain's immune cells, or ‘microglia’.

Researchers at the BPRC have written a review article about all the ways in which these microglia can be studied without the use of animal testing.

Cell culture systems aimed at new therapies

A greater knowledge of these specific cells is needed to be able to develop new types of therapy. Cell culture systems have been developed in the laboratories of various research institutes, including the BPRC, to allow study of the cell biology of microglia. The main advantage of this is that there is no need for animal testing. In time, these systems could even help to reduce lab animal use or replace them altogether.

In the article, our researchers take a detailed look at the latest culture systems – including those developed by the BPRC itself – and give an overview of commonly used cell lines and possibilities for using stem cells to grow microglia cultures. The researchers also discuss possibilities for further optimising culture systems in the future.