Clinical Trials on tissues of human heart now possible in UK

A UK based new start-up is developing a unique method for testing out the impact of drugs on the cardio-vascular system without resorting to animal testing or through clinical trials of an early-stage human.

The company we are talking about is Inocardia, a spin-out from the University of Coventry. Having attracted sufficient funding from the Mercia Fund Management, this organization is still in the process of shaping up the model and commercializing their line of business.

The model that they use takes up samples of the human heart attached to a rig. The cardiac tissue is elongated and contracted through electric impulse stimulation so as to mimic a working human heart.Drugs to be trialed are then administered to the tissue to keep a track of adverse effects – a test that could have been possible only on animals until now and also on human patients through clinical trials.

Dr Maddock, who is part of this model, says that this simulated system provides the world’s most realistic model of dynamics in the cardio-vascular human system. The results are convincing enough, he adds.

This is cost effective, most definitely because human clinical trials and animal testing are unreliable and often have to be carried out incessantly to make sure that unforeseen circumstances do not arise. The earlier the adversities arise, the better.

 “One of the main mantras in pharmaceutical research is: ‘Fail early and fail cheaply’,” says Dr Maddock. “We need to find more innovative ways to do this.”

The next agenda on cards for InoCardia is the usage of isolated human heart cells along with the model. This would be beneficial for the drug discovery method, says Dr. Maddock.

 “The cell-based asset would be very efficient, cost effective and very relevant,” adds Mark Payton, managing director of Mercia Fund Management.”The methodology will have other applications for other cells. If they crack it with heart cells then they can do it with other cells. But all startups need to focus when they are just beginning, so currently the concentration is only on heart tissue and then heart cells.”

This is a vital development in the field of clinical trials in the pharmaceutical industry. Uncalled for effects on the heart is one of the most serious and prevalent results following drug discoveries and usage among patients. Often drugs are pulled off from a last stage development because of similar reasons and this adds to the costs borne by pharmaceutical companies.

If Inocardia’s revolutionary trial method works out, it could help out by providing multiple benefits to a lot of parties who have interest in the same. This will perhaps reduce dead-end deals in pharmaceutical research and also reduce costs of new drugs that reach consumers. Drug safety will increase hence and do away with animal testing which unfair to animals.