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article imageAI & 'Heart-on-a-Chip' — weapons to combat heart disease

By Tim Sandle     Jan 15, 2019 in Science
New technology has been developed in the fight against heart disease. This will be realized through a new partnership between two biotechnology companies: Insilico Medicine and Tara Biosystems.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in many high-income countries. Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect the heart, and it is interchangeable with cardiovascular disease. The types of diseases include blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); and heart defects people are born with (congenital heart defects), and others.
The new partnership is working on the notion that the old tools and traditional steps of cardiac disease research, described as a combination of Petri dishes and "hit-and-miss" drug discovery, are no longer suitable. In their place the researchers are working on artificial intelligence and drug testing with human tissue. This type of technology also avoids the need for animal research.
By functioning together, the artificial intelligence and so-called "Heart-on-a-chip" technology are set to help medical researchers discover drugs to fight heart disease faster and at a lower cost. This forms part of the advancements with ‘lab-on-a-chip’ technology, which describes is devices that integrate one or several laboratory functions on a single integrated circuit. These devices are typically only a few square millimeters in size, and they are used to achieve automation and high-throughput screening.
Insilico Medicine has been teaching its artificial intelligence system to predict the therapeutic use of new drugs before they enter the human testing process. Insilico’s Alex Zhavoronkov explains further: “We interrogate hundreds of disease-relevant assays on a regular basis to identify those biological systems that we can trust to validate the targets and molecules identified using our end-to-end drug discovery pipelines.”
Tara Biosystems, in a complimentary role, has grown actual human heart cells under laboratory conditions. This biological side of the partnership allows the cells to be tested with different drugs and monitored for side effects.
According to Tara’s Misti Ushio (quoted by Select Science): “At TARA, we engineer human cardiac tissue to mimic specific human disease phenotypes which are used to validate novel targets and rapidly evaluate new compounds for positive effects on cardiac function. Partnering with Insilico Medicine further maximizes TARA's cardiac drug discovery platform.”
The two biotechnology companies, working together, aim to discover new treatments for heart disease. This will have the societal benefit of saving lives and extending the human lifespans.
More about Heart disease, Cardiac, labonachip, Artificial intelligence
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