Our stem cell technology platform, which we refer to as Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube, is based on a combination of proprietary and exclusively licensed technologies for controlling the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into multiple types of mature, functional, adult human cells that we use, or plan to develop, to reproduce complex human biology and disease. We are currently producing human heart cells and liver cells for our drug rescue applications. We intend to advance, through collaborative research projects, pharmaceutical applications of stem cell-derived blood, bone, cartilage, heart, liver and pancreatic beta-islet cells, including exploring opportunities to leverage our stem cell technology platform for regenerative medicine purposes. Our interest in the regenerative medicine arena is on developing novel human disease models for discovery of small molecule drugs and biologics that activate the endogenous growth and healing processes enabling the body to repair tissue damage caused by certain degenerative diseases.
3D “micro-organ” culture systems
In addition to standard two-dimensional (2D) cultures which work well for some cell types and cellular assays, the proprietary hPSC technologies underlying our Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube platform enable us to grow large numbers of normal, non-transformed, human cells to produce novel in vitro 3D “micro-organ” culture systems. For example, for CardioSafe 3D, we grow large numbers of normal, non-transformed, human heart cells in vitro in 3D micro-organ culture systems. The 3D micro-organ cultures induce the cells to grow, mature, and develop 3D cell networks and tissue structures. We believe these 3D cell networks and structures more accurately reflect the structures and biology inside the human body than traditional flat, 2D, single cell layers grown on plastic, that are widely used by pharmaceutical companies today. We believe that the more representative human biology afforded by the 3D system will yield responses to drug candidates that are more predictive of human drug responses.
Using VSTA-CMs™, our mature human cardiomyocytes (human heart cells) derived from pluripotent stem cells, we have developed CardioSafe 3D, a novel, customized in vitro bioassay system used to assess new drug candidates for potential cardiac toxicity before they are tested in animals or humans. We believe CardioSafe 3D is capable of predicting the in vivo cardiac effects, both toxic and non-toxic, of small molecule drug candidates with greater speed and precision than long-established, surrogate safety models most often used in drug development, including live animals and cellular assays using animal, cadaver, immortalized or transformed cells.
Using VSTA-CMs™, our mature, human hepatocytes (human liver cells) derived from pluripotent stem cells, with adult functional properties, we are validating LiverSafe 3D, our second novel, customized bioassay system for drug rescue and development. We believe LiverSafe 3D will enable us to assess new drug candidates for potential liver toxicity and metabolism-based safety issues resulting in adverse drug-drug interactions, early in development, long before animal or human testing. Drug-related liver toxicity and adverse drug metabolism, as a group, represent one of the top-two reasons for safety-related drug failure during clinical development.