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Toxicology-on-a-chip tool readies for market

cases, the metabolized chemicals, called metabolites, are harmless or even beneficial. But some metabolites are toxic, and this toxicity can be difficult to predict or find at early stages of drug discovery with current testing methods.

"The relatively slow pace of technology development in toxicology and clinical safety evaluation that could be used in early phases of drug development continues to hinder the progression of lead compounds to pharmaceuticals," Dordick says. "In addition to safety concerns, drug discovery is an extremely costly process with more than $1 billion invested in each approved drug. For the first time, the MetaChip can enable the initial and high-throughput analysis of metabolism-induced toxicology to be performed before significant resources are invested in the drug's development."

Solidus Biosciences recently received a $1.7 million, three-year award from NIH through its Small Business Technology Transfer Program to optimize the MetaChip for market. Rensselaer will receive approximately $500,000 as a sub-contractor of the award. The technology has been patented by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and University of California-Berkeley and licensed exclusively to Solidus Biosciences.

The MetaChip uses a culturing method by combining enzyme catalysis with cell-based screening on a single microscale chip. The drug candidates are added to a chip containing approximately 2,000 combinations of the eight enzymes used in human liver metabolism and then sandwiched with a slide of human organ cells in order to detect toxic reactions to the compound. When toxic reactions are detected, the toxic drug compounds are eliminated as potential candidates for further development as new pharmaceuticals. The researchers are also working to develop an automated MetaReader device to quickly analyze the results.

Dordick, Clark, and collaborators published findings on the MetaChip in the Jan. 25, 2005 issue of Proceedings of the N
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Contact: Tiffany Lohwater
lohwat@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
12-Dec-2005


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