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Rodent behaviour analysis plays a vital role in drug discovery, in everything from the development of disease models through to safety pharmacology. Through the NC3Rs CRACK-IT Challenges (in partnership with AstraZeneca, MRC Harwell, University of Strathclyde, University of Edinburgh, and The NC3Rs), we have developed an innovative home cage analysis system that provides 24/7 monitoring of rodent behaviours in a group-housed environment that is beneficial from both data and welfare perspectives.

The Actual Home Cage Analysis system represents the newest and most exciting technology available in rodent behavioural research. In the past, measuring locomotor activity in rodents meant they had to be housed singly in bespoke arenas. The depth of analysis was limited to the designated hours of observation, meaning researchers obtained nothing more than a limited snapshot of the rodents’ activity and behaviour.

With ActualHCA, it is possible to gather data on a 24/7 basis in the least invasive way possible, while the rodents remain in the same home cage. The system provides automated analysis of the complex behaviours displayed by rodents while allowing for identity to be retained.

The richness of the data provided by ActualHCA is unmatched by traditional methods. It allows researchers to obtain the maximum data possible per rodent as part of standard in vivo testing; according to the University of Strathclyde, ActualHCA delivers 90% more data with 50% fewer rodents than traditional observation methods. Not only does this mean your organisation benefits from better experimental data, it also enables better compliance with the 3RS and reduces safety-related project closures further up the drug discovery pipeline.

The CRACK-IT challenge

CRACK-IT is a funding competition designed to accelerate the development, application and commercialisation of technologies with 3Rs potential as they emerge from the research base. CRACK IT has been developed to facilitate active collaboration between the pharmaceutical, chemical and consumer products industries, contract research organisations, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the academic sector.

In 2011 the CRACK-IT challenge was devised by Dr Will Redfern, Associate Director of the Cardiovascular and CNS Translational Centre of Expertise at AstraZeneca. He asked - what if you could:



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