Modeling and attacking COVID-19 with Organs-on-Chips
The severity of the disruption of global healthcare systems and society worldwide by the COVID-19 pandemic knows few precedents. Because of the rapid spread of this new disease, physicians are partly working in the dark: little scientific data is available to support clinical decision making, especially when treating COVID-19 infected patients with comorbidities. This is not least because much remains unknown about the pathophysiology of the disease and the safety and efficacy of potential treatments. In particular, it is not understood why some COVID-19 patients show severe cardiac damage.
Data regarding cardiac safety are urgently needed so that healthcare professionals can offer better and safer treatments to COVID-19 patients in the shortest possible time frame - not only during the current outbreak but also in anticipated future “second-waves”.
In this project the consortium will i) use the existing human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiac models (hPSC-cModels) for a rapid evaluation of important COVID-19 pharmacotherapies currently under clinical investigation, and; ii) modify hPSC-cModels to become SARS-COV-2 disease models for better understanding of how infection affects the heart. By leveraging existing models and measurement methods impact beyond conventional approaches will be accelerated by providing data immediately relevant to clinicians, who are included in the consortium, and within months of the project start.
By joining the forces of clinicians, companies applying hPSC-cModels for the pharmaceutical industry, and research organisations pioneering this area in the Netherlands, this project consortium will be able to translate the results rapidly into clinically relevant data and transfer the technology to make it (commercially) available for a wide group of end users. Specifically, the ambition is to reduce preclinical cardiac safety assessment from months required in animal models to just weeks in these systems. This will directly impact society’s current interests but also prepare for future new viral outbreaks.
*Image credentials: Aisen De Sa Vivas / CC-BY