Xiao's research at the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology in the Department of Oncology focuses on developing bioreactors that more accurately recapitulate the tumour microenvironment, including the interplay of tumour and stromal cells, than current in vitro systems, by including perfusion by blood vessels.
In 2017, the National Centre for the Replacement Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) announced seven new fellowships, a commitment of nearly £1.2 million, to support talented early career scientists in the discovery and development of new technologies and approaches to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in scientific research. The NC3Rs provides two type of fellowships awards: Training Fellowships for researchers with less than three years postdoctoral experience and the intermediate career stage David Sainsbury Fellowships for researchers with two to six years of postdoctoral experience.
Using the funding from the Training Fellowship, Xiao hopes to develop highly interdisciplinary tools for creating artificial tissue in perfusion culture to replicate physiological and pathological processes with less chemical fluctuation and biological stress.
Xiao commented: "The outcome will benefit the oncology research communities, including researchers in Oxford as well as my collaborators in China, by enabling them to test their therapeutics in a better-defined tissue microenvironment compared with petri-dish methods. The techniques optimised by this project will have the potential to replace and reduce the use of animals in the preclinical evaulation of therapeutics, especially those targeting at tissue microenvironment, such as the epigenetic events in cancer development."
Further information about Xiao's project can be found on the NC3Rs website.