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

RaTS - Developing a device for objective monitoring of rheumatoid arthritis progression in rodents

X-ray of left and right hand showing joint inflammation from Rheumatoid arthritis

At a glance

In progress
Contract amount


  • Reduction
  • Refinement



Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder characterised by persistent joint inflammation, leading to cartilage and bone damage. Rodent models of RA (typically rats) are used to study the effect of pharmaceutical treatments being developed to alleviate symptoms and slow disease progression. Induction of RA in these models can cause significant pain and distress to the animal, and terminal anaesthesia is used to obtain measurements from the affected joints to assess treatment effects.

Sponsored by Galvani Bioelectronics and GSK, and co-funded by EPSRC, this Challenge aims to develop a device for objective monitoring of RA progression in rodents. This longitudinal assessment would reduce the number of animals needed overall and allow the early detection of cartilage and bone damage and healing, thereby reducing the severity of endpoints.

Phase 2 funding has been awarded to a multi-disciplinary team led by Associate Professor Martin Hedegaard, University of Southern Denmark, who are developing an imaging approach called Raman computed tomography (R-CT) for non-invasive biochemical monitoring of RA in rodents. The teams UK based activities are led by Dr. Mads S. Bergholt at King’s College London and also includes collaborators at Odense University Hospital, University of Southern Denmark Biomedical Laboratory and Ibsen Photonics A/S.

Full details about this CRACK IT Challenge can be found on the Innovation Platform website.