Current NIGMS-SBIR funding supported InvivoSciences LLC's (IVS) launch of several product lines in 2010. IVS generated revenues from the sales of three-dimensional (3D) cell culture tools (MC-8TM and IVS InsertsTM) that can grow various hydrogel tissues without any support layers. The culture tools enable Palpator TM and Tissue StretcherTM to stretch the hydrogel tissues for biomechanical measurements and mechanical conditioning (e.g., cyclic stress applications), respectively. IVS also performed contract research services, using our tools and devices, for industry and academic laboratories for profiling compound-induced effects on cell and tissue physiology. To further demonstrate our ability to screen drug candidates, especially for drug developers, the market demands benchmark studies against compounds and drugs whose pharmacological functions, including toxicity information, have been well-characterized. To fully commercialize our current start- up activities, IVS will improve its rapid drug screening system that uses engineered heart tissues (EHTs) to monitor the effects of test compounds on cardiac contractility and associated regulatory molecules.
In Aim 1, EHTs will be developed using cardiomyocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to commercialize a drug screening system using human samples. Using this system, we will determine the beneficial and toxic effects of a panel of drugs, based on the drug-induced changes in the cardiac functions of EHTs, as well as the signal transduction pathways that underlie their activities.
In Aim 2, we will establish ISO 13485:2003-specified requirements for a quality management system so that we may more confidently provide contract research services for drug developers. In addition, using a list of 16 well-known cardio effective and toxic drugs/compounds, we will measure drug-induced cardiac function changes using EHTs to establish the benchmark.
In Aim 3, we will identify mechanisms of cardiotoxicity, and will demonstrate the ability of the EHTs to predict cardiotoxicity in vitro, without the need for establishing animal studies. Our approach will advance drug target identification and optimization as well as biomarker discovery-critical for diagnosing cardiotoxicity. As a demonstration of the ability of our approach to elucidate a mechanism of cardiotoxicity, we will use, as an example, genetic knockdown with shRNA and drugs to inhibit mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin). Successful completion of our aims will prove the ability of our in vitro system to predict drug-induced cardiotoxicity in humans, clearly benefiting early-stage drug discovery.

Public Health Relevance

Existing cardiotoxicity testing in vitro is not sufficient to accurately predict drug-induced cardiotoxicity. The proposed project will establish a comprehensive cardiotoxicity assessment system using engineered heart tissues fabricated with cardiomyocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells. With the new technology, drug developers can predict potential drug-induced cardiotoxicity at the early stages of drug discovery so will reduce late-stage attrition and protect patients from developing cardiac failure.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-CVRS-B (10))
Program Officer
Cole, Alison E
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Invivosciences, Inc.
United States
Zip Code
Conway, Michael K; Gerger, Michael J; Balay, Erin E et al. (2015) Scalable 96-well Plate Based iPSC Culture and Production Using a Robotic Liquid Handling System. J Vis Exp :e52755
Daily, Neil J; Yin, Yue; Kemanli, Pinar et al. (2015) Improving Cardiac Action Potential Measurements: 2D and 3D Cell Culture. J Bioeng Biomed Sci 5:
Sonin, Dmitry L; Wakatsuki, Tetsuro; Routhu, Kasi V et al. (2013) Protease-activated receptor 1 inhibition by SCH79797 attenuates left ventricular remodeling and profibrotic activities of cardiac fibroblasts. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther 18:460-75
Lam, Vy; Bigley, Tarin; Terhune, Scott S et al. (2012) A method for quantifying mechanical properties of tissue following viral infection. PLoS One 7:e42197
Hazeltine, Laurie B; Simmons, Chelsey S; Salick, Max R et al. (2012) Effects of substrate mechanics on contractility of cardiomyocytes generated from human pluripotent stem cells. Int J Cell Biol 2012:508294
Lam, Vy; Wakatsuki, Tetsuro (2011) Hydrogel tissue construct-based high-content compound screening. J Biomol Screen 16:120-8