NC3Rs CRACK IT Challenges

Type of funding: Grant funding

NC3R's recently announced the Challenges for 2021.

Challenge 40 – Second Species Mega-Challenge: towards a virtual second species in toxicology for drug development

Current regulatory guidelines for medicines usually require safety and tolerability data from two species, a rodent and a non-rodent (e.g. dog). Advances in mathematical modelling, data interrogation and the availability of historical and contemporary dog study data, provide opportunities to develop a virtual dog to model potential toxicities and move towards use of a single (rodent) species for chronic toxicology studies.

This Challenge aims to apply advanced computational and mathematical modelling approaches including Machine Learning, systems biology, systems toxicology and multi-scale modelling to develop a suite of virtual dog tissues and organs to model toxicological endpoints for new medicines. The model developed will provide a tool to start moving towards replacing the use of the dog as a second species in drug development.

3Rs benefits: A typical chronic toxicity study uses 40 dogs and development of a virtual model could reduce or eliminate the need for chronic toxicity studies in the dog during drug development and provide the foundation to develop further in silico models for other test species.

Challenge 41 – SAFE: Innovative Safety Assessment of Fish adverse Effects

Environmental risk assessment (ERA) evaluates the likelihood that the environment may be impacted by exposure to one or more chemical stressors and is assessed across three trophic levels with fish used as the vertebrate species when in vivo testing is required. This Challenge aims to develop a suite of innovative, scalable bioassays for key adverse outcome pathways to replace in vivo fish studies in chemical safety screening and regulatory environmental risk assessment.

The Challenge is Sponsored by AstraZeneca, Bayer AG and Unilever, with co-funding from DEFRA and the Environment Agency, supported by Challenge Partners the Health and Safety Executive.

3Rs benefits: In vivo fish studies are often required for regulatory purposes, with approximately 1.3 million procedures conducted between 2015 to 2017, and the majority conducted at moderate severity (e.g. likely to cause short-term moderate pain, suffering or distress for the animals used). Delivery of a reliable, in vitro platform to address chemical safety in fish will reduce the number of in vivo fish studies carried out in early-stage ERA and in the longer term, providing the opportunity to fully replace in vivo animal studies for regulatory purposes.

NC3Rs are hosting webinars on 7 and 9th September to launch these challenges, register for them now on the website.

Deadline: 28/10/2021

Eligibility criteria:

CRACK IT Three Phase Challenges are run using the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) process which is supported by Innovate UK. The competition is open to any UK or European Union (EU) body, public or private. Applications can be from single organisations or investigators or from consortia. The lead applicant must be UK or EU based.

Applicants from the same organisation(s) as the Sponsors are not eligible to apply.

Applicants may already hold a grant or contract from the NC3Rs or other funding bodies for research related to the topic for which new funds are being sought, in such instances, details of all relevant research funding, including that from industry, should be included in the application.

Further information can be found here.