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Effects of Cardiac Drugs on Heart Cells To Be Measured with Webcam Technology!

800px-Webcam_grayscaleA group of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Boston, Massachusetts, USA have successfully created a device using basic webcam technology to observe the effects of heart medications on cardiomyocytes or heart cells in real time.

This study results were published in the April issue of ‘Lab on a Chip’ journal.

The team developed a portable, cost-effective (less than $10) cell based biosensor using the image sensor from a basic webcam to detect real time toxicity of cardiac drugs.

Mouse stem cells were first programmed to become cardiomyocytes. These were then introduced to different cardiac drugs. The after effects such as changes in the rate of heart beat and any drug induced toxicity were then monitored using the biosensor.

Cardiotoxicity is considered to be a major problem in the drug development process. Between 1996 and 2006, in a span of 10 years, above 30% of heart drugs had to be withdrawn from the market as they had a negative impact on heart cells which further led to cardiac dysfunction.

This technology presents a simple and easily accessible approach to perform required evaluation of the effects of different drugs on cardiomyocytes.

According to Ali Khademhosseini, assessment of drugs in the early stages of drug development not only accelerates the process of drug discovery, but also cuts down the cost and time leading to the discovery of faster treatment strategies.

The new technology could also prove to be effective in personalized medicine according to Sang Bok Kim, a Research Fellow at BWH.

This is possible by first extracting somatic cells from a patient’s body and programming them to become induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These iPSCs can then be persuaded to become cardiac cells which can further be monitored for any changes after introducing to cardiac drugs. This way the drugs that are efficient and non toxic will be known, based on which a treatment plan can be designed.

The next goal of this study is to perform screening of thousands of drugs on cardiomyocytes.

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