Moleculomics, a spin out of Swansea University have recently been awarded prestigious funding from the NC3Rs through a CRACK-IT challenge to develop technologies which will identify off-target Molecular Initiation Events (MIEs) and link these to associated Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) through the application of software technology developed at the Institute of Life Science over the past 10 years.
This first of a possible two project phases will explore the potential for developing a computational version of routine laboratory screening of the toxicity of chemical compounds to humans which is typically limited to particular in vitro panels of enzymes and receptors, or whole system toxicity testing using animals. The developed technologies will provide toxicologists with a better understanding of the molecular interactions that lead to adverse reactions and toxicity. Dr Jonathan Mullins, Chairman of Moleculomics explains “the conventional points of use of animals in toxicity screening are becoming increasingly difficult to justify in light of the enormous computational advances of recent years. In any case, we know that chemicals found to be toxic in animals are not necessarily toxic in human (and vice versa) meaning the results of animal trials are not always useful. There is also the impact of natural polymorphic variation in human beings to be considered. We hope that utilising the supercomputing capacity offered by HPC Wales will provide genomescale molecular information to improve the efficiency of new compound research and development”. Dr Cathy Vickers, Programme manager for the NC3Rs said “this is one of 3 technologies competing in the first Phase of the competition and if successful, will reduce animal use and add real scientific and business value to a broad range of sectors, including the pharmaceutical, chemical and consumer products industries”.
With sponsorship from both Unilever and Dow AgroSciences, this CRACK-IT challenge is the NC3Rs response to the changing environment in the biosciences. The aim is to accelerate the availability of technologies which will deliver benefit to the “three Rs”; the Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of the use of animals in scientific procedures. An emphasis of the funding is that the resulting technologies will be made commercially available with a view to maximising both scientific and commercial benefits of new and emerging technologies.
The above article was featured in the Welsh Government ‘Advances Wales’ magazine. You can download the original article here.