Actual Analytics – behavioral neuroscience

Actual Analytics is a biotech company developing ground breaking life sciences applications that are at the leading edge of research into behavioral neuroscience. Winners of two CRACK-IT challenges, an initiative of the NC3Rs and chosen partners of the MRC and AstraZeneca, its products are being showcased in the British Parliament and also as part of the Citizen Science program. Actual Analytics is working towards creating better science and better data within preclinical trials.

Actual Analytics – behavioral neuroscience

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Actual Analytics has developed an innovative home cage analysis system, known as ActualHCA, this system offers researchers the chance to conduct 24/7 monitoring of multiple, home cage-housed subjects whilst retaining their individual identity. The data produced are richer and more comprehensive than anything currently available using traditional monitoring methods, and the system greatly improves the 3Rs elements of study designs.

Rodent behaviour analysis plays a vital role in drug discovery, from the development of disease models through to safety pharmacology, the collection and analysis of useful and reproducible data is paramount. Rodents in research labs live in small social groups in highly optimised plastic home cages where they thrive and grow. Inside such ‘hotels’ the animals eat, drink, sleep, interact and behave yet these data are not captured due to technical challenges, early phenotypes and neurodegenerative stressors may occur only once a day in the very early stages, more often than not these early signals may be occurring when we are unable to observe them. Actual Analytics has developed a system that uniquely tags each individual animal so identity can be retained within the group and add onto this video analytics to record and analyse behaviours including activity/immobility, thigmotaxis, circadian rhythms, social grouping etc. Actual Analytics uses unmodified home cages so its solution has minimal impact on current animal husbandry procedures.

The camera is trained on the home cage enclosure 24 hours a day, and the baseplate reads data from the subcutaneously-inserted RFID chip in each rodent. This setup allows for each rodent’s identity to be retained throughout every study. Infrared lighting ensures that no matter the time of day, data can be consistently collected.

So how is this different from standard monitoring? ActualHCA software will look out for unusual activity for you. Months of dedicated annotation and software “training” have resulted in a program that is loaded with algorithms designed to pick up on and flag any kind of unusual behaviour. If rearing, fighting, or social isolation is taking place, the software will detect it. The rest of the time, the footage will be standard. You can select the flagged time periods and watch them for an instant insight into what specifically happened surrounding unusual events. The ability to gather extensive and detailed behavioural data from animals in their normal home cage environment has very obvious 3Rs impacts. Refinement: firstly the behavioural data collected is entirely non invasive and based on observing group behaviour in the home cage. Reduction: secondly, the quantity of longitudinal data gathered provides additional statistical power meaning fewer animals are required.

When you combine the ability to view rodents as individuals, the access to previously inaccessible data, and the capacity to pick up on unusual activity early, the amount of information accessible using ActualHCA is impressive to say the least. It has remarkable potential for advancement both in terms of its own development and the ongoing drive to improve the way clinical trials are conducted.

Using this system guarantees improved 3Rs compliance, access to richer, more refined data, and a reduction in costs in terms of both finances and resources. Actual Analytics has also developed an automated behavioral tracking software optimized for rodent, fly and fish models straight out of the box. This software is far easier to configure for any researchers interested in the behavior of these animals, and also a fraction of the cost.

Headquartered in Edinburgh (Scotland, UK) Actual Analytics is a leading provider of behavior analysis solutions for scientific studies.

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Actual Analytics – behavioral neuroscience

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