Axol to supply Metrion with stem cells under cardiac safety testing accord

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Axol Biosceince has teamed up with Metrion Biosciences to provide drug developers with a more accurate means of testing drugs' cardiac safety using stem cells.

The agreement- financial terms of which were not disclosed – will see UK-based Axol supply Metrion with stem cells it uses to assess the cardiac safety of drug candidates.

Metrion already provides cardiac safety testing services.

Axol’s cells will be used to confirm the findings of research conducted by Metrion to “help ensure the results are physiologically relevant, and offer a more accurate prediction of drug liability to identify cardiac safety issues sooner and more cost-effectively​.”

Spokeswoman Michelle Ricketts told us Axol makes stem cells using “reprogrammed human CD34+ peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) using a non-integrating, zero-footprint system.

Cardiomyocyte differentiation is then carried out using these iPSCs to generate our iPSC-Derived Ventricular Cardiomyocytes​” Ricketts continued, adding that the process is carried out at Axol’s laboratory in Little Chesterford, Cambridge.

Cardiac safety

Drug developers have been obliged to test the cardiac safety of their drugs since the late 1990s after a number of drugs – including Seldane (terfenadine) - were withdrawn after being linked to disruption of the electrical rhythms of the heart.

The scandal prompted development of International Conference on Harmonisation​ guideline S7A, which is an in vitro assay used to check if a candidate molecule interferes with an ion channel called hERG that is linked to arrhythmias.

In 2013​ an initiative - CiPA (Comprehensive in vitro​ Proarrhythmic Assay) – was introduced to encourage drug firms to test candidates against more ion channels, use computer modelling and in vitro​ studies in human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes.

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