10 years of CRACK IT webinar: The worm that turned the tide on in vivo DART testing

  • NC3Rs
Tuesday 16 March 2021 14:00 to 15:00

The webinar recording is now available to watch online.

This webinar forms part of the CRACK IT 10 year anniversary celebrations and will showcase a C. elegans platform to assess the developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) potential of chemicals developed to address the 2012 PreDART CRACK IT Challenge

The C. elegans model, when used in combination with a zebrafish embryo screen also developed during the Challenge, correctly identified 100% of well characterised DART chemicals provided by the Challenge Sponsors (Shell and Syngenta). Testing in these two model organisms is cheap and fast, taking one week to complete compared to mammalian studies conducted to comply with OECD test guidelines which can take up to 30 weeks and use large numbers of rodents and rabbits. 

During the webinar you will hear from: 

  • Dr Marjolein Wildwater, Founder and General Director of Vivaltes, the company spun out to commercialise the research developed during the PreDART Challenge. Marjolein will describe the technology development process and the role that CRACK IT played in supporting the creation of a commercial ready product. 

  • Dr Martijn Rooseboom (Shell). Martijn was one of the original Sponsors who set and helped deliver the PreDART Challenge. During his presentation, Martijn will describe the reason for setting the Challenge, the role of the Sponsor and how Shell has continued to apply the C. elegans platform to support their product development.  He will also describe the wider scientific and 3Rs impacts of this compared to traditional in vivo approaches. 

There will be an opportunity to ask questions after the webinar presentation. The webinar is free to attend. 

Register now via Zoom.


The PreDART CRACK IT Challenge, sponsored by Shell and Syngenta and launched in 2012, aimed to develop non-mammalian assays to provide an indication of developmental and reproductive toxicity potential to mammals, including man, in order to reduce and refine in vivo mammalian testing.

Studies to determine the DART potential of chemicals and pharmaceuticals use large numbers of rats and rabbits with the standard multi-generation reproductive and developmental toxicity study involving around 2,500 animals per substance. Non-mammalian model systems are used widely in academia to study the biological phenomena associated with development and reproduction but have not been exploited by industry. Shell and Syngenta posed the PREDART Challenge to develop the use of these model organisms for the early and rapid prediction of DART. 

Marjolein and colleagues from the University of Utrecht and University of Oxford developed a phenotypic screen for DART hazard assessment using C. elegans and zebrafish embryos (up to five days post-fertilisation). Marjolein has since spun out Vivaltes to provide DART screening using C. elegans (with the sub-contracting of testing in zebrafish embryos). It has conducted assignments from Shell including testing water samples, expanding the application of the screen to ecotoxicology as well as human health. 

Further information about the Vivaltes platform and PreDART Challenge can be found on the NC3Rs Innovation Platform