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Charu ChandrasekeraUWindsor researcher Charu Chandrasekera has received a grant from the British Columbia Foundation for Non-Animal Research to kickstart a project that aims to produce a 3D-printed model of human lung tissue.

Research project focused on creating a lung in a dish

UWindsor researcher Charu Chandrasekera has received a $20,000 grant for her animal-free, respiratory-disease research platform she has dubbed “lung-in-a-dish.”

Dr. Chandrasekera, founder and executive director of the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM), said she and her research team are honoured to receive the inaugural grant from the British Columbia Foundation for Non-Animal Research.

“We are very grateful to the foundation for providing this catalyst grant to kickstart our 3D-bioprinted human lung-in-a-dish model,” said Chandrasekera. “This is an exciting opportunity for a graduate student at CCAAM to develop our first prototype to emulate human lung physiology in a Petri dish.”

The project, being carried out in collaboration with UWindsor biophysicist Drew Marquardt, involves creating a model of human lung tissue that can be used to study the mechanisms underpinning lung disease at a molecular level, and to test the toxicity of inhaled chemicals like those found in vaping oils, pesticides, and other consumer products.

Traditional methods of conducting this research involves the use of laboratory animals, Chandrasekera said. “We hope our venture will ultimately contribute to the reduction and replacement of animals used in this field.”

The BC Foundation for Non-Animal Research provides grants to scientists for biomedical research and the development of teaching methods that do not involve the use of animals. Its goal is to encourage the use of alternatives to the use of animals in medical research, testing, and education.

“It is exciting to receive funding from organizations that do not ask me to conduct animal studies to validate my human biology-based data,” Chandrasekera said.

She said she encourages researchers to “think outside the cage” and find alternatives to the use of animals in research.

—Sarah Sacheli

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