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Brain model awarded Swiss 3Rs prize

The Swiss 3Rs Competence Centre has awarded its 3Rs Young Investigators Award to a scientist developing ways to study the brain’s protective wall, without using animals.

Research by Wei Wei, from ETH Zurich (pictured), used human brain cells to create a model of the human blood-brain barrier (BBB). The model can replicate bodily processes and be monitored in the lab in real time.

BBB is a vital border between the blood vessels in the brain and other cells and tissues, which prevents toxic substances, such as bacteria, from entering the brain from the bloodstream.

All vertebrates possess a BBB and species such as mice and rats have been used in research to study the complex interactions that occur and to understand its role in diseases and to test drugs – however, the human BBB differs from that of animals.


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