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SmartHeart, a 3D in vitro assay for improved assessment of cardiac drug efficacy and toxicity

Project description

SmartHeart: 3D heart model to aid drug discovery

During the drug discovery process, drugs under development are initially tested on animal models. However, there is an overall consensus to reduce animal experiments as much as possible, replacing them with in vitro models of disease. With this in mind, the EU-funded SmartHeart project is working on an innovative 3D in vitro cardiac assay that employs induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes grown in a microstructured gel. The SmartHeart assay will allow the qualitative and quantitative measurement of several cardiac parameters as well as the sub-cellular structure observation via high resolution imaging techniques. The technology will be available in multi-well format suitable for high throughput screening processes.


Currently, animal models are still widely used in the pre-clinical stage of drug development to mimic human diseases or predict the human body’s response to candidate drugs. However, their use should be minimized as much as possible due to ethical issues and since only 9.6% of drugs entering phase I of clinical trials end up being commercialized. Therefore, the goal of this action is to develop a novel proprietary 3D in vitro cardiac assay. The SmartHeart will retrieve several of the most important read-outs commonly assessed to study the impact of drugs at the cardiac level in the pre-clinical phase. The all in one assay will be based on a microstructured gel where cardiac cells, as cardiomyocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells will be cultured. The SmartHeart will answer to the shortcomings of academic and commercial available in vitro assays, by enabling the qualitative and quantitative measurement of several parameters, as contractility and Calcium transients. Simultaneously, the assay will enable sub-cellular structure observation via high-resolution imaging techniques. Furthermore, the 3D nature of the assay will contribute to the efficient maturation of the induced CMs, which is still a limiting factor when not using cardiac human cells, but rather induced CMs, in in vitro assays. The ultimate aim of the project is to make this device available to screening platforms, e.g. Pharma or CROs. The technology will be implemented in multiwell plates compatible with the standards of HTS/HCS and will be available to early-users, from whom feedback will be acquired, enabling to fine tune the specifications of the final device. This project will meet the best of the ER competences in physics, with the expertise of 4Dcell in 3Dcell culture systems. With this project, the ER will reach a level of maturity on several technological, managerial and industrial aspects providing her a new career angle and put her a step closer to act as a leader in research.


Net EU contribution
€ 196 707,84
14 rue de la beaune bat c etage 2
93100 Montreuil

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Seine-Saint-Denis
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Other funding
€ 0,00