Market Overview

Hesperos To Create Multi-Organ Human-On-A-Chip Model to Test Alzheimer's Drugs


Orlando Company Awarded Phase I Small Business Innovation Research
Grant from NIH to Fast-Track Project

Hesperos, Inc., announced today the receipt of a NIH Phase I Small
Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes
of Health (NIH) National Institute on Aging (NIA) to help create a new
multi-organ "human-on-a-chip" model that can realistically mimic the
biology of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and the effects of potential new
therapies under realistic human physiological conditions.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Hesperos founders Michael L. Shuler, Ph.D, and James J. Hickman, Ph.D.,
are pioneers of organ-on-a-chip technology, and their company is the
first to create pumpless microfluidic multi-organ systems with fully
integrated physiological functions, such as blood circulation and nerve

The AD model will be a three-organ system that includes brain cells
(cortical neurons) and functioning liver and blood-brain-barrier
constructs, as well as re-circulating blood and cerebral spinal fluid
surrogates. This will enable scientists to study the body's systemic
response to any chemical introduced into the model, including how it
metabolizes in the liver, and how it penetrates into the brain through
the blood-brain barrier.

This is important, because the toxicity of drugs can change once
metabolized. In some cases, they become less effective; in others, the
metabolites that are produced can cause unexpected — and sometimes
dangerous — effects. Current human-based in vitro toxicity studies have
only limited capacity to predict such functional changes, and that has
been the demise of many potential therapeutics.

"There are estimated to be 50 million people in the world with dementia
— that's more than the population of Spain, and it is projected to
nearly triple by 2050. Many of the people with dementia have AD,
resulting in an urgent need for new, effective treatment options for the
disease," said Hickman, Hesperos's chief scientist and professor at the
University of Central Florida's Hybrid Systems Laboratory. "Development
of a low-cost, easy-to-use system to assess drugs for AD would improve
efficacy and toxicological evaluations for patient specific treatments,
providing a significant benefit to the drug development community and

Hesperos scientists will make models using both healthy brain cells
created from pluripotent stem cells, and cells with different mutations
consistent with AD. Functional readouts of responses to drugs
administered to the models will give valuable insights into both direct
central nervous system effects and peripheral effects.

Later phases of the project will also test long-term effects, and
include real patient samples, to test its viability as a tool to inform
real-time, personalized treatment decisions as part of precision

"The integrated use of these pre-clinical test systems and
physiologically based pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic models provides a
powerful tool for evaluating the dynamic interaction between drugs,
aging biological system and disease, and will facilitate rational drug
development and clinical trial design," said Dr. Shuler, Hesperos CEO
and founding Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at
Cornell University.

About Hesperos:

Hesperos, Inc. is a leader in efforts to characterize an individual's
biology with human-on-a-chip microfluidic systems. Founders Michael L.
Shuler and James J. Hickman have been at the forefront of every major
scientific discovery in this realm over the last 20 years, from
individual organ-on-a-chip constructs to fully functional,
interconnected multi-organ systems. With a mission to revolutionize
toxicology testing as well as efficacy evaluation for drug discovery,
the company has created pumpless platforms with serum-free cellular
mediums that allow multi-organ system communication and integrated
computational modeling of live physiological responses of functional
neurons, cardiac, muscle, and neuromuscular junctions as well as liver,
pancreas and barrier tissues. Created from human stem cells, the fully
human systems are the first in vitro solutions that accurately recreate
in vivo functions without the use of animal models, as featured
in Science
. More information is available at

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