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NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science

BBSRC, NC3Rs and UKRI invest £4.7M in the development of non-animal technologies

Scientist looks at experiment on computer screens

Supporting 24 new projects focusing on alternatives to in vivo models in bioscience research.

Building on a strong track record of collaboration, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the NC3Rs have committed £3.7M through a joint call to develop the next generation of non-animal technologies (NATs).

A further £1M was invested by UKRI as part of its strategic ambition to secure better health, ageing and wellbeing through the development of non-animal technologies to support ageing research.

Researchers highlighted a need for NATs that better model complex physiology through a recent survey report published by BBSRC and the Physiological Society. The new joint call aims to address this need by combining BBSRC’s remit to fund tools and technologies underpinning biological research with the NC3Rs mission to pioneer better science by supporting predictive, reproducible and cost-effective alternatives to the use of animals in research.

The awards made cover a wide range of disciplines and model types including human stem cell organoid systems, vascularised organ-on-a-chip models and novel in silico frameworks. Each award will focus either on the development of new NATs or enhancing confidence in existing technologies through improving the physiological relevance, throughput or breadth of application of current models. A third of all awards made through the joint call also include an Industrial Project Partner to help address the lag between the development of a new technology and its adoption into routine use, and to stimulate the translation and commercialisation of NATs.

Dr Amanda Collis, Executive Director for Research Strategy and Programmes at BBSRC, said:

“BBSRC welcomed the opportunity to work in partnership with NC3Rs to deliver this strategic programme. This latest investment builds upon our well-established relationship and collaborative history of joint funding to drive research and innovation in the 3Rs while further enhancing our understanding of the fundamental biological mechanisms of healthy systems across the whole life course.

The 24 projects supported by our investment offer great potential to deliver tangible impacts that improve human and animal health including ageing.

It will lead to reductions in the number of animals used for research and improve reproducibility of novel NATs. Furthermore, by engaging industry partners in this programme of work, there is a very real opportunity to make significant progress around the translation and commercialisation of non-animal technologies.”

Dr Cathy Vickers, Head of Innovation at the NC3Rs said:

“We are delighted to announce these exciting awards made in collaboration with BBSRC that evidence the potential for non-animal technologies to deliver a step change in bioscience research and reduce animal use. 

The range of technology approaches we have funded is underpinned by the strength of expertise in non- animal technologies across the UK and the industry partnerships formed will be a key enabler to drive them into real world application.

We are looking forward to working with our grant holders and helping them to maximise their success.”

BBSRC/NC3Rs joint call: development of next generation NATs awards

Developing the next generation of NATs

Enhancing the capacity and confidence in existing NATs