Solutions funding awarded for 3Rs technology development

25 September 2013

Grants of £30,000 have been awarded by the NC3Rs CRACK IT Solutions programme to support new collaborations in the development and validation of new technologies to reduce animal use.

Working with the GlaxoSmithKline Research and Development Centre in Shanghai, Dr Alex Easton, Durham University, will develop and validate a new apparatus that aims to reduce by up to 50 per cent the numbers of mice required for studies to assess memory. It is anticipated that the model may improve drug development for treating Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions (including normal ageing) where memory loss and decline in cognitive function are consequences of the condition.

The new apparatus, a modification on the widely used spontaneous recognition memory task, will also improve the welfare of those animals still required as its design allows for better handling practices.

Dr Tamer Mohamed, University of Manchester, will collaborate with the European Screening Port to further develop and validate a human stem cell-derived model for assessing the cardiotoxic potential of new drugs. Current preclinical approaches using animals for testing cardiotoxicity are often not predictive of human physiological responses when tested in the clinic, leading to high attrition rates. This is attributed in part to an over reliance on the use of animals and their cells in preclinical assays.

Dr Mohamed’s approach to use human-induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes may offer a potential solution to this industry-wide problem. It has the potential to not only replace the need for animal cells in early screens, but also lead to a reduction in the number of animals required for whole animal studies in the later stages of preclinical development.

The NC3Rs’ CRACK IT Solutions programme was set up in 2012 to connect technology developers with new partners, users and markets to support the development of marketable products that have an impact on business and the 3Rs.