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innoVitro is a seed stage start-up located at the University of Applied Sciences Aachen. Our core competence is the measurement of cellular forces, in particular of stem cell derived cardiomyocytes.
Cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death in the western world. Although mortality is steadily decreasing due to the continuous improvement of emergency medical care, late effects lead to a loss of life quality and high follow-up costs for the health care system. These late effects can be treated by medications with a strength-enhancing effect, which can significantly improve the quality of life of those affected. In the development and characterization of these drugs, the pharmaceutical industry has been dependent on animal experiments, which not only cost a great deal of money but also raise ethical concerns among public opinion.
innoVitro is working on the establishment of an in vitro cardiac muscle model based on CellDrum technology and human cardiac muscle cells.
The model is intended to be an alternative to animal experiments which will enable the qualitative and quantitative determination of substance effects on the contractility of myocardial cells. By using human stem cell derived cardiomyocytes, common issues with the translatability of pharmacological results from animal models to human physiology are avoided already in the preclinical phase of drug develomplent.
In initial studies, the CellDrum technology has shown its potential to complement cost-intensive and ethically controversial animal experiments in late preclinical studies. It is based on a biohybrid cardiac muscle tissue from human stem cell-derived cardiac muscle cells and high-precision, ultra-thin and hyperelastic silicone membranes. Together they reflect the properties of real heart tissue in unprecedented quality and reproducibility. The technology has been developed at the University of Applied Sciences Aachen since 2001, but for a long time it has been used exclusively for academic purposes. As part of the doctoral thesis by Matthias Goßmann, one of the founders of innoVitro, it was further developed into an industrial demonstrator and validated on a wide range of pharmacological agents. Compared to existing solutions, the CellDrum technology offers both the scalability to high throughput as well as the physiological environment for the cells. This makes in vitro contractility measurements attractive for the pharmaceutical industry, which is exposed to increasing governmental regulation of animal experiments. The newly developed measurement methodology allows intensive scaling at low cost. In the framework of a grant programme for Hightech start-ups, the device architecture is currently being scaled to 96-well format in cooperation with Nanion Technologies.