As veterinarians, it is one of our foremost concerns to promote animal welfare in research. According to the concept of the 3Rs (replace, reduce, refine animal experiments), the aim of our research is to replace animal experiments, to reduce the number of animals used in biomedical research and to refine experiments with animals to improve animal welfare.
Our team’s area of expertise is the creation of realistic in vitro models of angiogenesis and vasculogenesis. Vasculogenesis is the determination and differentiation of endothelial progenitor cells from the mesoderm and their de novo organization to a primitive blood vessel network. Angiogenesis is the process that follows valculogenesis, during which new blood vessels develop from pre-existing ones through migration, proliferation and finally three-dimensional re-organisation of vascular endothelial cells.
Angiogenesis and its inhibitor, antiangiogenesis, are cutting-edge research areas. In combination with conventional therapies such as chemo- and radiotherapy, prevention of pathological neoangiogenesis, commonly occurring in malignant growths, is a promising approach to treating tumours.
The in vitro models developed by our study group are based on isolation, characterization and cultivation of microvascular as well as macrovascular endothelial cells of various species (human, murine, bovine, procine, canine, equine) and organs (skin, corpus luteum, heart, ovaries, spleen etc.) These cultured cells present all stages of angiogenesis including the formation of tubular and lumenised structures as well as the participation of endothelial progenitor cells in the formation of vascular structures. In this way, complex processes can be separated into steps, which reduces the number of animals used for experiments.
In terms of refinement, we are also working on establishing a database with information on the specific anatomy of certain animals commonly used in biomedical research.