Published: 14 Jul 2021 | Last Updated: 14 Jul 2021 19:35:15

Dr Virginia Marugan-Hernandez has been awarded an NC3Rs Skills and Knowledge Transfer award to transfer her in vitro screening method to test new interventions for coccidiosis, to SALUVET-innova, an SME spun-out of the Complutense University of Madrid.  These awards are a critical part of the NC3Rs' commitment to tackling the lag in uptake of 3Rs methods, by enabling exchange of models, tools and technologies between research groups.

The development of in vitro models can support important advances in biomedical sciences and significantly reduce the use of experimental animals. The transference of these models for a wider uptake is paramount to make results comparable between different research groups and to support a global reduction of animal use in research.

At the Royal Veterinary College, we have recently developed and published an in vitro model for the evaluation of anti-parasitic properties of novel compounds intended to be used for control of chicken coccidiosis. Chicken coccidiosis, is a costly disease for the poultry industry (>£10 billion annually) and is caused by protozoa parasites of the genus Eimeria. The control of this disease is mostly achieved by chemoprophylaxis with drugs; nonetheless, there is an overall agreement of the need to improve current methods of control due to the reported resistances, new regulations on their use and public concerns.

Anti-parasitic activity of new compounds is currently evaluated by expensive experiments that involve large numbers of chickens. In a first application of our model, the in vitro pre-screening of two essential oils led to a reduction of 67% of the chickens planned for the in vivo trials. Therefore, this model could have an impact in the replacement/reduction of the number of chickens used for research in new anticoccidials. In order to allow a global impact, we propose in this project the optimisation and transfer of the model to SALUVET-innova, a company focussed on knowledge transfer to generate new services and products, which will adopt it and test compounds from several animal nutrition companies, as well as offer its use to other research institutions.

In vitro infection of Eimeria tenella sporozoites
In vitro infection of Eimeria tenella sporozoites

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