Thursday, 28 July 2022 12:38

German Research Foundation awards Ursula M. Händel Animal Welfare Prize 2022 Featured

This year's Animal Welfare Award goes to Dr. med. Michael Karl Melzer from the University Hospital Ulm as well as to the "Würzburg Initiative 3R (WI3R)". All award winners are honored for their efforts to replace or at least reduce animal experimentation with new animal-free methods.

Michael Karl Melzer, MD, is being honored for a method that allows him to replace the production of Matrigel in mice by using pig bladders from the slaughterhouse. Although this is not an animal-consumption-free process, it replaces the torturous production of Matrigel in mice implanted with so-called Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm mouse sarcoma cells. The EHS tumor formed spontaneously in a stem mouse and was further expanded by transplantation. A cell line from this was established back in 2004 to continue culturing the sarcoma cells (1), which preserves the ability to form tumors in vivo. However, the cells are repeatedly used to form the sarcoma in mice, allowing the secreting of Matrigel. Matrigel is a biologically active matrix material that resembles the cellular basal matrix of mammals. It, as well as the similar laminin, is used in 3D cell culture and tissue engineering as a growth substrate (matrix, cell-substrate), which allows cells to grow on surfaces that are not or are not very well suited for this purpose (2).

The "Würzburg Initiative 3R (WI3R)" is honored for the development of six in vitro models of the barrier organs skin, cornea, intestine, blood-brain barrier, and lung as well as solid tumors. The models are already being used in infection and cancer research as well as for testing cosmetics, food supplements, and medical products such as drugs or vaccinations.

The Ursula M. Händel Animal Protection Prize is awarded every two years by the German Research Foundation. It is endowed with 80,000 euros.


Additional information on Matrigel or Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm mouse sarcoma cells:
(1) Hayashi Y, Emoto T, Futaki S, Sekiguchi K. Establishment and characterization of a parietal endoderm-like cell line derived from Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm tumor (EHSPEL), a possible resource for an engineered basement membrane matrix. Matrix Biol. 2004 Apr;23(1):47-62. doi: 10.1016/j.matbio.2004.02.003. PMID: 15172037.
(2) C. S. Hughes, L. M. Postovit, G. A. Lajoie: Matrigel: a complex protein mixture required for optimal growth of cell culture. In: Proteomics. Volume 10, Number 9, May 2010, ISSN 1615-9861, pp. 1886-1890, doi:10.1002/pmic.200900758.