Neurotoxicity de-risking in preclinical drug discovery


In the early stages of drug development, scientists seek to identify (and weed out) compounds that could prove harmful to the brain and nervous system. However, current tests for this are not reliable, meaning that sometimes toxicities are only identified when the first human volunteers test a new drug in clinical trials. The aim of NeuroDeRisk is to deliver a comprehensive toolbox of tools and data that would make it easier for researchers to assess whether or not a compound is likely to be toxic to the brain and nervous system, long before the first tests in humans. They will focus their efforts on three of the most challenging effects: seizures, psychological / psychiatric changes, and peripheral neuropathies (in which the nerves in the extremities are damaged resulting in symptoms such as numbness, tingling and pain).

They will collect, organise and build on our current knowledge of the adverse effects of drugs on the nervous system. They will also develop new and improve existing tools to predict neurotoxicity, with an emphasis on approaches that are in line with the ‘3Rs’ principles to reduce, refine and replace animal use. Finally, they will organise all the tools and associated data in a comprehensive, integrated toolbox that researchers will be able to use to aid decision making during the early stages of drug development. Ultimately, the results of the project will help to make clinical trials safer for human volunteers. They will also make drug development more efficient, as scientists will not waste time studying compounds that prove to be toxic to vital organs.


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EFPIA companies
  • Astrazeneca AB, Södertälje, Sweden
  • Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics Inc, Madison, United States
  • Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, United States
  • Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland
  • Pfizer Limited, Sandwich, Kent , United Kingdom
  • Sanofi-Aventis Recherche & Developpement, Chilly Mazarin, France
  • UCB Biopharma, Brussels, Belgium
Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups
  • Farmaceutski Fakultet Univerziteta U Beogradu, Belgrade, Serbia
  • Iceta Instituto De Ciencias, Tecnologias E Agroambiente Da Universidade Do Porto, Porto, Portugal
  • Itä-Suomen yliopisto, Kuopio, Finland
  • Medizinische Universitaet Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • Universita Degli Studi Di Firenze, Florence, Italy
  • Universitat Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • Universite Clermont Auvergne, Clermont Ferrand, France
  • Uppsala Universitet, Uppsala, Sweden
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-sized companies (<€500 m turnover)
  • A. Persidis & S.A Oe, Athina, Greece
  • Alcediag, Montpellier, France
  • Inte:Ligand Software-Entwicklungs-Und Consulting GMBH, Vienna, Austria

NameEU funding in €
A. Persidis & S.A Oe406 800
Alcediag583 300
Farmaceutski Fakultet Univerziteta U Beogradu696 150
Iceta Instituto De Ciencias, Tecnologias E Agroambiente Da Universidade Do Porto403 500
Inte:Ligand Software-Entwicklungs-Und Consulting GMBH341 400
Itä-Suomen yliopisto804 900
Medizinische Universitaet Wien372 200
Universita Degli Studi Di Firenze391 500
Universitat Wien594 450
Universite Clermont Auvergne429 400
Uppsala Universitet307 400
Total Cost5 331 000