Any old ion? Metrion gets grant to develop better stem cell-based cardiac risk assays

By Gareth Macdonald contact

- Last updated on GMT

iStock/sudok1
iStock/sudok1

Related tags: Cell, Assay

Metrion Biosciences has been awarded a grant to develop CiPA-compliant stem cells and screening technologies by Eurostars, a European Union (EU) programme.

Metrion will use the €2.2m ($2.4m) grant with partners Nanion Technologies and researchers at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands to develop more accurate methods of testing if novel drug candidates are likely to induce cardiac problems.

The idea is to use Nanion’s CardioExcyte96 platform, which enables simultaneous recording of cardiac cell electrical activity and contractility, to develop compliant cardiac safety assays using human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes provided by the Leiden researchers.

Metrion’s role will be to commercialise the resulting cell lines and provide them to drug industry customers and CROs.

Company CSO Marc Rogers said: “This project supports Metrion’s goal of becoming a leading CRO provider in the cardiac safety screening market, enabling customers to access all three CiPA-related services through one provider​.” 

Cardiac arrhythmia

Drug developers have been obligated to test if their products are likely to induce cardiac arrhythmia since the late 1990s after a number of drugs – including Seldane (terfenadine) - were withdrawn after being linked to disruption of the electrical rhythms of the heart.

The scandal prompted development of International Conference on Harmonisation​ testing guidelines one of which, ICH S7A, is an in vitro assay used to check if a candidate molecule interferes with an ion channel called hERG that is linked to arrhythmias.

In 2013​ a new initiative - CiPA (Comprehensive in vitro​ Proarrhythmic Assay) – was introduced to encourage drug makers to test candidates against more ion channels, use computer modelling and to conduct in vitro​ studies in human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes.

The human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes Metrion and its partners will develop will be CiPA-compliant according to the UK CRO.

This is in keeping with the business plan outline by Metrion’s owner Xention when it launched the firm in May​ last year.

Matrion became independent in October.

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