The scientists have made a new method of drug testing for human cardiovascular conditions, discarding the involvement of animal organs in such examining methods.
The new heart-on-a-chip method can speed up the drug testing for human cardiovascular conditions as well as yield more effective results.
The invention has been made by a bioengineering team at the University of California Berkeley.
The testing of drugs for human cardiovascular diseases often needs a long process and also usually involve animal organs that are not suitable for human use because of their differences in biology.
The new heart-on-a-chip technique will save the drug companies from wasting funds on animal testing, which often produces drugs that are toxic to humans. Besides, the new technique also offers speedy delivery of drug testing, enabling saving more lives.
Kevin Healy, a bioengineering professor at the university, said, “It takes nearly USD 5 billion on average to develop a drug, and 60 percent of that figure comes from upfront costs in the research and development phase. Using a well-designed model of a human organ could significantly cut the cost and time of bringing a new drug to market.”
For developing the new method, the team of researchers used human tissue stem cells for creating their heart cells. They designed the geometry of heart-on-a-chip in such a way that it best matched a human heart in terms of structure as well as function.
Just few days after the scientists created the heart, it started beating on its own at a normal rate of 55 to 80 beats per minute.
The team also examined a variety of cardiovascular drugs that were already in the market on their beating heart, including isoproterenol.