Dr Carmine Gentile, Marcus Blackmore Fellow at The Heart Research Institute, will be researching the development of a novel drug toxicity screening technique.
More and more drugs are being developed every year, and there is a critical need to be able to screen these drugs for potential side effects, including effects on the heart tissue.
The Food and Drug Administration in the United States of America have spearheaded this movement in the last decade, with the head of the FDA saying “A new focus on updating the tools currently used to assess the safety and efficacy of new medical products will very likely bring tremendous public health benefits.”
With this in mind, Dr Gentile is collaborating to develop a new proxy for measuring the cardiac toxicity of medication in humans – bundles of heart cells that they call human cardiac tissue spheroids (HCTSs). These bundles of cells can be exposed to various drugs, with the effect on cell health and survival measured.
Dr Gentile and his collaborators will test their new system using three drugs with known side-effects. If these studies generate promising results, this new cell system could one day be used to examine whether new drugs have damaging effects on heart tissue before they enter clinical trials.
This could have a broad impact on the development of new drugs, and further The Heart Research Institute’s work towards the prevention and treatment of heart disease.