Category Archives: Issue 13 Aug 19

Creating & Innovating

The Janet Wood Innovation Award 2020



As we enter the 4th year of our annual Janet Wood Innovation Award, we’re proud to look back on all of the achievements so far.

The original idea of holding the award came from our Brand Manager, Mark Johnson. He originally thought about doing some kind of end-user focus group to help to come up with new ideas and designs

It was, of course, inspired by co-founder of Datesand, Janet Wood, who sadly passed away in 2010. Janet knew that there was a very clear need for innovative products which would be of real practical assistance in safeguarding and enriching the lives of the animals used in research and making the work of those who cared for them simpler and more effective. She and the Datesand team understood that the best way to discover products which really worked for the animals is to ask the people who looked after them – the professionals!

So, since 2017, Datesand has given those at the forefront of the industry the chance to offer products aimed at improving the welfare of the laboratory animals. To enter the competition, it was decided that designs must promote at least one of the 3Rs; Replacement, Reduction & Refinement.

The award has introduced a variety of highly popular products which have gone on to sell successfully, both nationally and globally within the industry. This includes our 3 current winners;

–      Mouse Swing, by Lisa Doar

–      Nombrerowet diet feeder, by Vanessa Jenkins

–      Rat Scratcher, by Sarah Taylor – available in September

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Despite not taking the top spot, we have taken several other designs put forward in the competition, manufactured and sold successfully too. This includes the LilypadMouse Mezzanine, the Tunnel Clip and we will be releasing the C-Saw later this year after coming 2nd in the JWI Award 2019.

The Janet Wood Innovation Award is gradually becoming more and more global. We are seeing some excellent product ideas being sent in from all over the world. As we continue with the competition, we look forward to seeing this continue and are beyond excited to see the new, innovative designs that you might have!

As well as having the opportunity to have your very own product on the market, winning the JWI Award comes with some extra benefits! First place will also win an all-expenses-paid trip to any Life Sciences trade conference in the world of your choice as well as a £4,000/$5,000award towards publication in an open-access scientific journal.

Coming second will also bag you a brand-new state of the art iPad and 3rd place offers £200 in shopping vouchers to spend as you please!

If you would like to take part, you can find application packs with full instructions and T&Cs at you can email us at jwiaward@datesand.comfor more information.

Closing date for the competition will be 1st February 2020.

Getting lost with IAT NE branch

On 13th July, yet another exciting day out was put on by the wonderful people at the Institute of Animal Technology. This time, the North East Branch organised a day out at the York Maze on its first day of opening in 2019.

Alanah, our Social Media Executive at Datesand, took her niece and nephew to the family event for the day, which gave her the perfect excuse to just be a big kid again!

Each year, the York Maze has a new theme and this year, Europe’s largest maize maze paid tribute to Lion King! Alanah managed to conquer the maze in just over half an hour – not bad going!


There were all sorts of other activities on the day for all to enjoy. As well as the giant maize maze, there was also a Jurassic maze, the maze of illusions and a mini mineshaft maze! Alanah also had a go on the ‘cobstacle course’ – a big inflatable corn-themed obstacle course; the ‘popcorn pillow’ which was essentially one long bouncy castle; a slightly damp ‘Angry Crows’ drive-thru experience; corn on the club mini-golf; pig racing; a mini animal sanctuary and her favourite of all: ‘House of Cornfusion’.

The ‘House of Cornfusion’ was a building that you had to make your way around, each room playing a trick on the mind. This included a tunnel that made it seem as though the whole room was spinning, a room that made you feel super tall (especially for someone so short…) and a slanted room that would not let you stand straight!

All in all, it was yet another fabulous day organised by the IAT team and Alanah would like to thank them for such a great day.

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See our friends at…



From the 11th– 13th September, the annual Australian and New Zealand Laboratory Animal Association conference will be held in Perth, Australia.

Though Datesand are unable to attend, you will have the opportunity to say hello to not only our Australian distributor, Allied Group, but also the creator of the Nombrero, Vanessa Jenkins!

Vanessa has chosen this year’s ANZLAA conference as her Life Science trade conference of choice for winning the Janet Wood Innovation Award in 2018, organised by Datesand. While there, she will have the opportunity to explore the city and enjoy all the wonders that the ANZLAA has to offer for all the like-minded passionate professionals that attend every year.

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We have a number of European distributors heading over to the 45thannual AFSTAL conference in La Rochelle, France.

You can find Datesand products showcased on the Bio-Services, Genestil and Plexx stands along with some friendly faces.

Despite not being around ourselves, we wish all who are attending both events a brilliant time and we hope to see you soon!


Scientists successfully turn breast cancer cells into fat to stop them from spreading

By Jacinta Bowler – Science Alert 



Researchers have been able to coax human breast cancer cells to turn into fat cells in a new proof-of-concept study in mice.

To achieve this feat, the team exploited a weird pathway that metastasising cancer cells have; their results are just a first step, but it’s a truly promising approach.

When you cut your finger, or when a foetus grows organs, the epithelium cells begin to look less like themselves, and more ‘fluid’ – changing into a type of stem cell called a mesenchyme and then reforming into whatever cells the body needs.

This process is called epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and it’s been known for a while that cancer can use both this one and the opposite pathway called MET (mesenchymal‐to‐epithelial transition), to spread throughout the body and metastasise. 

The researchers took mice implanted with an aggressive form of human breast cancer, and treated them with both a diabetic drug called rosiglitazone and a cancer treatment called trametinib.

Thanks to these drugs, when cancer cells used one of the above-mentioned transition pathways, instead of spreading they changed from cancer into fat cells – a process called adipogenesis. 

“The models used in this study have allowed the evaluation of disseminating cancer cell adipogenesis in the immediate tumour surroundings,” the team wrote in their paper, published in January 2019.

“The results indicate that in a patient-relevant setting combined therapy with rosiglitazone and trametinib specifically targets cancer cells with increased plasticity and induces their adipogenesis.” 

Although not every cancer cell changed into a fat cell, the ones that underwent adipogenesis didn’t change back. 

“The breast cancer cells that underwent an EMT not only differentiated into fat cells, but also completely stopped proliferating,” said senior author Gerhard Christofori, a biochemist at the University of Basel, in Switzerland.

“As far as we can tell from long-term culture experiments, the cancer cells-turned-fat cells remain fat cells and do not revert back to breast cancer cells.” 

So how does this work? Well, as a drug trametinib both increases the transition process of cells – such as cancer cells turning into stem cells – and then increases the conversion of those stem cells into fat cells.

Rosiglitazone was less important, but in combination with trametinib, it also helped the stem cells convert into fat cells.

“Adipogenic differentiation therapy with a combination of rosiglitazone and [trametinib] efficiently inhibits cancer cell invasion, dissemination, and metastasis formation in various preclinical mouse models of breast cancer,” the team wrote.


The image above shows this process, with the cancer cells tagged with a green fluorescent protein and normal red fat cell on the left. The cancer-turned-fat cells display as brown (on the right) because the red of the fat cells combines with the green of the protein cancer cell tag.

What’s exciting is that these two drugs are already FDA-approved, so it should be easier to get this type of treatment into clinical trials for actual people.

That’s exciting even despite the fact that we know many mouse-tested treatments don’t actually make it to, or fail, the clinical trial stage. The fact this worked on human cancer cells gives a little extra hope.

That’s exciting even despite the fact that we know many mouse-tested treatments don’t actually make it to, or fail, the clinical trial stage. The fact this worked on human cancer cells gives a little extra hope.

In the meantime, the team is investigating whether this therapy would work combined with chemotherapy, and whether it would apply to other types of cancers.

“The clinical evaluation of the treatment’s repressive effect on experimental breast cancer metastasis and, thus, of its potential in treating stage IV breast cancer will require adjuvant combinations with chemotherapy in advanced preclinical models,” the team wrote.

“Since we have used FDA-approved drugs to study the preclinical effect of the treatment, a clinical translation may be possible.”

Moving forward


After two years of searching for somewhere to home the ever-growing team and suit the continuous expansion of Datesand, we are delighted to say that we have finally bought and have the keys to our new home!

We very recently completed the purchase and are avidly cracking on with some refurbishments to make it all our own before the end of the year.

Datesand have now invested in a freehold warehouse and office facility near the Manchester motorway network. This whole process opens a host of opportunities, not only for us but also for all our wonderful customers that we treasure so much.

While the current Datesand team are spread over a few different areas, we look forward to bringing everyone together and working together to create overall more systematic solutions.

We can use this fantastic new space to continue our growth while offering an even more efficient service. Improvements in communications and reduced costs can be assured while more confined operations will also mean Datesand produce less waste and energy, something we were keen to consider moving forward.

We are beyond excited to officially move in and get this new chapter up and running and we look forward to welcoming you to our new home in the future.