MAPLE GROVE, Minn., May 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- StemoniX® Inc., a biotech company revolutionizing how new medicines are discovered, announced that it entered into a Research Collaboration Agreement with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) to screen a library of neuronal signaling and opioid compounds using microBrain 3D as part of the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM) Initiative, a trans-NIH effort to advance national priorities in addressing the opioid crisis through science.
The widespread failure of drug candidates to show safety and efficacy in human clinical trials for neurological disorders has motivated the development of 3D human physiologically-relevant in vitro assay platforms comprised of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cells for drug development. StemoniX has developed microBrain 3D, an iPSC-derived neural spheroid platform that contains a mixture of neuronal subtypes and astrocytes, are spontaneously electrically active, and can be used in high-throughput drug screening. microBrain 3D is designed to reflect key aspects of native human brain tissue in both structure and function, offering improved outcomes for neurological drug discovery and neurotoxicity research.
Initially, NCATS and StemoniX will screen a library of neuronal signaling and opioid compounds on microBrain 3D to detect a signature opioid response and to demonstrate assay efficacy. Knowledge of an opioid signature would enable pre-screening of drug candidates leading to the elimination or closer study of potentially addictive and less addictive compounds.
Marc Ferrer, Ph.D., Leader of NCATS' Biomolecular Screening and Probe Development and NCATS Investigator, said, "More than 115 Americans die from opioid overdose every day. New, safe interventions are urgently needed to combat opioid misuse and addiction, and to treat pain. Through the HEAL initiative, NCATS is conducting research into 3D models of pain, opioid addiction and overdose to advance new treatments."
Ping Yeh, co-founder and CEO of StemoniX, said, "We are eager to contribute our expertise to this important research initiative and assist NCATS's search for improved therapeutic options for pain that address this national crisis. This collaboration represents a new approach to the problem by utilizing human models earlier in pain research. Therefore, this is an ideal application for microBrain 3D, which brings human biology to high-throughput drug screening for efficacy and toxicity in order to bring safer and more effective drugs to patients more quickly."
About the NIH HEAL Initiative
In April 2018, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term SM) Initiative, an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. This Initiative is designed to build on extensive, well-established NIH research, including basic science of the complex neurological pathways involved in pain and addiction, implementation science to develop and test treatment models, and research to integrate behavioral interventions with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD).
The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was officially established in fiscal year 2012 to transform the translational science process so that new treatments and cures for disease can be delivered to patients faster. NCATS, one of 27 Institutes and Centers (ICs) at NIH, strives to develop innovations to reduce, remove or bypass costly and time-consuming bottlenecks in the translational research pipeline in an effort to speed the delivery of new drugs, diagnostics and medical devices to patients.
StemoniX is empowering the discovery of new medicines to treat challenging diseases via the world's first ready-to-use assay plates containing living human microOrgans®, including electrophysiologically active neural (microBrain®) and cardiac (microHeart®) cells. Predictive, accurate, and consistent, StemoniX's products enable pharmaceutical scientists to quickly and economically conduct high-throughput screening in a simplified workflow. Through their Discovery as a Service branch, the company also partners with organizations to screen compounds as well as create customized microOrgan models and assays tailored to individual discovery and toxicity needs. Visit www.stemonix.com to learn how StemoniX is helping global institutions humanize drug discovery and development to bring the most promising medicines to patients.