On-line monitoring through smart phones and other devices is revolutionizing healthcare. Patients with a variety of diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes and asthma are now able to collect valuable personal information to help manage their disease. On-line monitoring devices will continue to play a part in healthcare, with invasive and non-invasive devices emerging that could transform medical care and the pharmaceutical industry. One important aspect of designing new medicines, is to provide maximum therapeutic benefit while providing minimum side effects, also referred to as the therapeutic margin for a drug. Prior to clinical evaluation, extensive studies using animal models are carried out to establish the therapeutic margin for a compound. These studies can be challenging in terms of understanding potential toxicological risks, determining when to look for these effects, and monitoring multiple parameters simultaneously for an extended time. These gaps ultimately limit our ability to understand novel medicines prior to clinical trials. As such, we seek a minimum invasive technology that can provide a solution to monitoring drug levels and biomarkers of toxicity and efficacy longitudinally in preclinical species in real-time.
There are some technologies available currently that are moving towards continuous online measurement but they have been optimized for one analyte (e.g. glucose), are not sufficiently small to be used with animals, and do not transmit data wirelessly from the subject. AstraZeneca intends to make an award of $25,000 for a solution that provides a new implantable measurement technology that meets our technical requirements.
This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires written documentation, experimental proof-of-concept data, and sample delivery.
The process of drug discovery relies heavily on predicting clinical responses to drugs based on in vitro cell culture. With advances over the past decade, researchers are increasingly able to recapitulate the physiology of intact tissues within cell cultures. When compounds are tested, however, drug exposure essentially remains static and doesn’t reflect the in vivo pharmacokinetic variations and resulting pharmacodynamics of drugs administered in the clinic. AstraZeneca wishes to increase the translational predictability of in vitro screening and seeks an automated system for transient administration and washout of drugs to cells grown in multiwell plates.
This is an electronic Request-for-Partners (eRFP) Challenge; the Solver will only need to submit a written proposal to be evaluated by the Seeker with the goal of establishing an AstraZeneca funded collaborative partnership
The proximal tubule, a part of the kidney nephron (the functional unit of the kidney), has highly specialized properties to do with the salvage and excretion of various compounds, salts and minerals that are very important to the body and would otherwise be lost in the urine. In addition, the proximal tubule is essential for the handling of many drugs and so-called xenobiotics that come from outside the body and from the environment (e.g., many artificial substances, including potential toxins). However, there are no good human models in vitro that can recapitulate and reproduce the function of the proximal tubule. A robust model for the proximal tubule is needed, especially since the proximal tubule has an essential role in drug clearance, because it is highly susceptible to damage in many kidney diseases, and it is also a target for drug-drug interactions and drug toxicity. Development of a proximal tubule model system in vitro could help to address some of the gaps in laboratory models for the study of kidney disease, toxicity, and drug handling.
AstraZeneca is seeking innovative approaches to developing a model system of the proximal tubule in vitro. Ideally, the model should incorporate a self-contained microphysiological unit in which biologically appropriate media, fluid flow, and shear stress can be modulated to reproduce the properties of the proximal tubule in vivo and ultimately recapitulate the structural and cellular conditions necessary for integrated proximal tubular function.
This is an ideation challenge and only requires a written solution.
The majority of all cases of chronic kidney disease, a key research area within AstraZeneca, originate in the glomerulus when filtration barrier function is compromised. However, a detailed cellular understanding of the functioning and pathology of the glomerulus has been limited by the lack of good in vitro models of glomerular function.
AstraZeneca is looking for approaches to develop a glomerular model system. Ideally, the in vitro model should incorporate a self-contained microphysiological unit where biologically appropriate media, fluid flow and shear stress can be modulated to simulate in vivo properties that will ultimately recapitulate the conditions necessary for endothelial and podocyte cell types to form a functional glomerular filtration barrier.
This is an ideation challenge and only requires a written solution.
Pancreatic islet beta-cells sense blood sugar levels and secrete insulin to maintain homeostasis. In patients with diabetes, islet beta-cells are either lacking or ineffective. Islet transplantation is a treatment strategy that allows diabetics to reduce or eliminate the need for insulin injections to control their disease. AstraZeneca is searching for a simple device to transplant human islets to facilitate testing of therapeutic agents.
Diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and accounts for up to 30% of newly diagnosed cases in the United States. It is a heterogeneous disease which in part appears to be driven by chronic activation of key survival pathways. A limited number of DLBCL cell lines are available, however there are gaps, and specific patient subtypes are not represented. To add to the complexity of clinical diversity, new mutations are being identified in certain treatment-resistant patients. AstraZeneca is interested in innovative proposals to create suitable preclinical models of DLBCL.
This is a Reduction to Practice Challenge that requires a written proposal and experimental proof-of-concept data (and/or sample delivery).
The Challenge has a special award structure. Whether creating a model for DLBCL or a model of acquired resistance to ibrutinib, up to $10,000 will be designated for solutions that highlight novel technologies to generate in vitro cell lines, whereas up to $25,000 will be awarded for submissions that successfully utilize patient-derived tissues.
Solid dosage forms (e.g. tablets) are the preferred dosage unit for pharmaceutical products. These units are produced by compressing particulate formulations. A major problem in the high speed pressing of tablet formulations of pharmaceutical API’s (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) is they sometimes tend to stick to the punches during the compression process. This causes weight loss defects in the tablets and thus costly manufacturing defects during production. A model is required to predict sticking of formulations in high speed presses to prevent losses in production.
This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.
Drug metabolism is the enzymatic process by which the body modifies pharmaceutical substrates. The liver is primarily responsible for reactions which convert lipid-soluble compounds into water-soluble metabolites that can easily be excreted by the kidney. Occasionally, these metabolites exhibit chemically reactivity towards host proteins, leading to inappropriate binding that may result in adverse drug reactions. AstraZeneca desires an innovative approach for the quantitative measurement of covalent binding to cellular proteins.
Glucose levels change rapidly after meals, exercise, or the injection of insulin. For diabetics, self-monitoring of blood glucose is vitally important for managing fluctuations and knowing when to administer their medication and how much. Measurements are taken several times a day and generally require blood from a finger prick. Although the procedure is simple, patients dislike the frequency of sampling and accompanying discomfort. AstraZeneca seeks a minimally invasive approach to measure blood glucose without the need for blood sampling.
This is an electronic Request-for-Partners (eRFP) Challenge; the Solver will only need to submit a written proposal to be evaluated by the Seeker with the goal of establishing an AstraZeneca funded collaborative partnership.
Screening compounds for undesirable effects on the heart or blood vessels is a key step in drug discovery and development, ideally performed by using predictive in vitro assays. Cardiac and vascular spheroids are a new type of assay that, despite showing great promise, are not the finished article. Hence the Seeker to this Challenge is looking for a novel approach to improve these assays. Particularly, the Seeker is interested in solutions that provide a core for the spheroids that senses and reports pressure.