CRACK IT challenge 45: CrossDART

This Challenge aims to reliably predict early or surrogate indicators of teratogenicity of pharmaceutical drug candidates in vitro.

Opportunity Details


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Phase 1: up to £100k, contracts up to 6 months Phase 2: up to £1m, contracts up to 3 years



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NC3RS is the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction (the “3 Rs”) of the use of animals in scientific research.

Funding of £4M is available through their 2023 CRACK IT Challenges competition to solve four Challenges, providing academics and SMEs based in the UK and Europe with the opportunity to deliver scientific and 3Rs benefits through the development and commercialisation of 3Rs products and services that are tailored to end-user needs.

Challenge 45 – CrossDART: multi species in vitro developmental toxicity testing.

Background: Testing the teratogenic potential of drugs intended for the treatment of women of child-bearing potential typically involves evaluation in pregnant animals (rat and rabbit). These in vivo studies are not always predictive of human and are limited in their mechanistic insight.

Challenge aim: To develop and qualify an in vitro approach that can reliably predict early or surrogate indicators of teratogenicity of pharmaceutical drug candidates.

3Rs benefits: This Challenge has the potential to provide more predictive approaches for the earlier identification of teratogenicity, preventing toxic drugs progressing to in vivo studies. In the longer term the approach could also substitute or defer testing in one of the two species required if qualified and accepted by Regulatory Authorities.

This Challenge is sponsored by AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bayer AG, Boehringer Ingelheim, LEO Pharma A/S, Merck Healthcare KGaA, MMV Medicines for Malaria Venture, Novartis and Roche. Applicants from the same organisation(s) as the Sponsors are not eligible to apply.

The competition is open to any UK or European body, public or private. Applications can be from single organisations or investigators or from consortia. The lead applicant must be UK or European based (country in EU, EEA or EFTA).

Funding structure

Phase 1 applications are assessed by a Review Panel which recommends funding up to three projects for six month proof-of-concept studies funded by the NC3Rs (up to £100k total funding available).

At the end of Phase 1, candidates are invited to submit a Phase 2 application and attend an interview with the Challenge Panel. Up to one project is awarded a contract of up to three years to deliver the full Challenge (up to £1m).

Read further background details on the challenge, including the full brief and technical requirements.

Register for the CrossDART launch webinar on Wednesday 6 September 2023, 10.00 – 11.15 (BST).

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