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Nanoscale drug testing: Sweden as a test bed for revolutionising drug discovery

Reference number
Coordinator Karolinska Institutet - Institutionen för Onkologi och Patologi (OnkPat)
Funding from Vinnova SEK 9 876 511
Project duration December 2018 - June 2022
Status Completed
Venture Challenge-driven innovation - Phase 2 Collaboration

Purpose and goal

While great progress has been made in treating and preventing disease, not least exemplified by the rapid access to vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry is still facing consistent low success rates in product development, particularly during the transition from preclinical to clinical research. This global challenge presents opportunities for further innovative development, where Sweden could be a key solution provider. Our short-term vision is to develop and implement a near-patient drug testing platform that improves success rates in preclinical research.

Expected results and effects

Here we demonstrate a conceptually new technology for the generation of miniaturized spheroids (minispheroids) from frozen primary human hepatocytes. With only ~60-100 cells in each 3D structure, this represents a ~10-fold miniaturization of the best available 3D liver models. Together, we have validated the retention of hallmarks of the primary hepatocyte phenotype in these highly miniaturized models, established new methods to measure drug response in 3D, and conducted large-scale feasibility testing of the process in an industrial setting.

Planned approach and implementation

We completed Phase 2 of the collaboration by gathering Swedish academics researchers at SciLifeLab (KI & KTH), innovators and solution providers (Pelago Bioscience, KTH, Lucero Bio), and industry users (AstraZeneca) in one team. This reflects Sweden´s position as a strong actor within life sciences with potential to provide global solutions. Our efforts to improve productivity in the pharmaceutical industry concentrated on increasing the availability of affordable, disease-relevant cell models, as they represent a key bridge between preclinical and clinical research.

The project description has been provided by the project members themselves and the text has not been looked at by our editors.

Last updated 14 October 2022

Reference number 2018-03338

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