Industry-Sponsored Research Week

Bayer partners with Tel Aviv U to test drugs on 3D-printed hearts


By David Schwartz
Published: July 7th, 2020

A new collaboration agreement between the Tel Aviv University’s tech transfer company Ramot and pharmaceutical giant will involve using 3D-printed human heart tissue to test the cardiotoxicity of experimental drugs. The work will be done in Prof. Tal Dvir’s Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.

“We are excited to start this new collaboration with Tel Aviv University, which will address a new area of early assessment of safety and tolerability of drug candidates,” said Eckhard von Keutz, head of translational sciences at Bayer. “We already have a global network of partners, and this new project will enable Bayer to expand its open innovation activities to Israel, which provides a dynamic ecosystem for innovation in biotech and medical research.”

Last April, Dvir’s lab successfully produced the first-ever 3D-printed heart using tissue extracted from a patient. The technology hold the promise of speeding the drug screening process – which would be a big leap forward for pharma companies.

“In a Petri dish, all the cells line up in 2D, and it’s only one type of cell,” Dvir explained. “In contrast, our engineered tissues are 3D-printed, and therefore better resemble real heart tissues. Our printed tissues contain cardiac muscle, blood vessels and the extracellular matrix which connects the different cells biochemically, mechanically and electrically. Moving away from Petri dishes to 3D printed tissues could significantly improve drug tests, saving precious time and money with the hope of producing safer and more effective medication.”

Dvir hopes eventually to offer Bayer the ability to do pre-clinical trials on complete printed organs. “Our end goal is to engineer whole human hearts, including all the different chambers, valves, arteries and veins — the best analogue of this complex organ — for an even better toxicological screening process,” he said.

Ramot has already licensed the 3-D printing technology to a spin-off company, Matricelf, which is focusing on engineering personalized spinal-cord implants to treat paralyzed patients.

Source: Israel 21c

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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