A three dimensional model of human breast tissue could help unlock the potential causes of cancer, a scientist from the University of Ulster has said.
Experts will use human cells instead of animals' to research how cells change.
Professor of bioimaging Vyvyan Howard said: "The three-dimensional model will potentially replace the use of rodents altogether and becomes particularly exciting as time-course studies will generate site specific four-dimensional data."
It will use human cells to test how Endocrine Disrupting Substances (EDS) can interfere with hormonal function.
Mr Howard added: "Being able to now develop a three-dimensional model of breast tissue using human cells to test EDS will replace the use of animals in this process and build on prior research models and improve testing because the new model will exhibit the same complex cellular branching structure found in the breast."
Staff at the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute received £360,000 funding from the National Centre for the Replacement Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research.
Mr Howard said: "The use of the breast tissue model that we will develop could also start producing more accurate results in our research and give us a better sense of how EDS impacts on health and the possibilities of the development of mammary cancer."