Research LabAn exciting new project is underway at the School of Medicine to explore the use of non-animal research to find novel and more effective ways to monitor treatment response in people affected by lung cancer.

Principal Investigator Dr Dania Movia is an Assistant Professor in Radiation Therapy and focuses on the development of 3D models of human cancer. These models are used to screen the efficacy of new drugs that could be used in patients. Dr Movia was recently awarded a Pilot Study Grant from Animal Free Research UK (AFR-UK). These grants enable researchers to explore new ideas in animal-replacement research that could advance human health.

Lung cancer remains a deadly disease and although new and more effective drugs have been approved in the last years for its treatment, almost all patients inevitably develop drug resistance after a first response.

We know however that if resistance is identified early, a patient’s prognosis improves significantly.

This project develops non-animal models of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that can support finding a new, more effective way to monitor the acquisition of drug resistance in patients. This could ultimately improve patients’ prognosis in the future.

In terms of impact, the project will provide two opportunities:

Potential for human health: The proposed project will provide data that may support the development of a new tool for the real-time monitoring of NSCLC patients’ response to therapies. The project will also provide the foundations to investigate general mechanisms of acquired resistance to therapies in NSCLC.

Potential for animal replacement in research: Animal studies have been used to study how to monitor drug resistance in NSCLC. However, it has been proved that findings in animals rarely translate into clinical outcomes in the lung-cancer field. Dr Movia’s project will support the future implementation of animal-free research methodologies. The latter promises to bring much benefit to the patients in the future, enhancing the clinical translation of pre-clinical findings and producing more predictive diagnostics.

Explaining the importance of this funding and this project, Dr Movia said:

I am really grateful to AFR-UK for this funding. The ultimate goal of my research is to be able to replace animal testing in lung cancer research one day. This funding will allow me to move one step closer to my goal, by supporting the development of a lung cancer-in-a-dish model, completely devoid of animal-derived biomaterials.”

Dr Movia is a member of the Applied Radiation Therapy Trinity (ARTT) group, an Assistant Professor in the Discipline of Radiation at the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute (TTMI) and is associated with the Trinity St. James's Cancer Institute.