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NC3Rs: National Centre for the Replacement Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research

New CRACK IT Solution funding: using moth larvae to advance the 3Rs

24 January 2017
Side shot of Dr Olivia Champion

An innovative project has been awarded funding through the NC3Rs CRACK IT Solutions partnering programme which supports collaborations to develop and validate new technologies with commercial and 3Rs potential. 

Scientists from University of Exeter spin-out company BioSystems Technology Ltd have received two grants of £12,000 each, to support partnerships with contact research organisation Envigo and with antibiotic discovery company Demuris, to explore potential uses of TruLarv™, research grade larvae of the wax moth (Galleria mellonella).

The larvae could be used as a cheap, fast model to bridge the gap between in vitro studies and research in other species such as mice, to improve the predictivity of preclinical studies and reduce the number of mammals used. G. mellonella larvae have been widely used over the past few years as non-mammalian models of microbial infection and for antimicrobial drug screening. However, the lack of a consistent and reliable source of larvae has resulted in high variation between batches, and so the model has not yet been adopted outside of academia.

TruLarv, provided by BioSystems Technology, offers a more reproducible model that could have broader, commercial use. In collaboration with Envigo, the company will assess whether the larvae can be used for testing the toxicity of chemicals. If the non-mammalian model proves to be predictive, Envigo will offer this as a service to their clients, which would lead to a reduction in the number of rodents used in the testing of new compounds.

Working with Demuris, BioSystems Technology will also utilise TruLarv to screen extracts from bacteria for antibiotic properties, enabling rapid selection of the most promising compounds without the need to screen these in mice.

The NC3Rs CRACK IT Solutions programme aims to connect technology developers with new partners, users and markets to support the development of marketable products that have an impact on business and the 3Rs. The programme, set up in 2012, has showcased 40 technology Solutions to date.