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An integrated in vitro model of perfused tumor and cardiac tissue

Steven Carl George

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National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Cancer and cardiovascular disease remain the two leading causes of death in the United States. Progress in treatment to reduce morbidity and mortality will include the development of new drugs. Recent advances in induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology, tissue engineering, and microfabrication techniques have created a unique opportunity to develop 3-D microphysiological systems that more accurately reflect in vivo human biology when compared to 2-D "flat" systems or animal models. The primary goal of this project is to create 3-D micro-organ systems using iPS technology that simulate 1) the microcirculation, 2) cardiac muscle, and 3) solid tumor during the UH2 phase, and then combine these micro-organs into three integrated micro- organ systems that simulate 1) perfused cardiac muscle, 2) perfused solid tumor, and 3) perfused cardiac muscle and solid tumor during the UH3 phase. The platform will be initially validated to predict anti-cancer efficacy while minimizing cardiac muscle toxicity. The broader implication of this project is the creation of a platform technology that can accurately and affordably simulate the complex interplay between the major human organ systems, including the response to new and existing drugs. A critical feature will be blood flow through a human microcirculation (capillaries and larger microvessels), which is necessary to overcome diffusion limitations of nutrients and waste products in realistic 3-D cultures, and serves to integrate multiple organ systems. This is a necessary and critical feature of any platform that seeks to simulate integrated human organ systems, and our preliminary studies demonstrate this capability. Secondary goals of the project include achieving: 1) flexibility in the design such that alternate organ functions (e.g., liver) can be eaily inserted, removed, or rearranged (i.e., "plug-n-play"); 2) reproducibility in the manufacturing process and the biological response; 3) portable design that is palm-sized; 4) the use of iPS cell technology to create patient-specific (or "personalized") drug screening, and 5) non-invasive and non-destructive optical imaging methods to rapidly assess the metabolic state of a cell. The results should produce a new paradigm for efficient and accurate drug and toxicity screening, initially for anti-cancer drugs with minimal cardiac side effects, and a platform technology that can be eventually used to integrate all of the major organs of the human body.

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