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University of Washington and Nortis publish first organ-on-chip study modeling human liver-kidney interactions for preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies

Posted by Matthew Hayes on

Liver-kidney, 3D organ-on-chip model run on Nortis ParVivo™ system elucidates absorption, distribution and metabolism ex vivo for the first time using human cells   Seattle, WA — November 28, 2017 — Nortis today announced the publication of the first study to show microfludically-linked, 3D organ-on-chip human models for liver and kidney can be used to identify organ-organ interactions in response to known chemical toxicants. The University of Washington used the Nortis ParVivo system in this study that was published in JCI Insights and highlighted as its cover article.   It is often difficult to study toxicological mechanisms in human subjects due to ethical concerns, yet...

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Nortis at the 4th Drug Discovery Innovation Programme 2017

Posted by Matthew Hayes on

Glance Over 4th Drug Discovery Innovation Programme 2017

After continuous success in 2015 and 2016 in Europe, the 4th Drug Discovery Innovation Programme 2017 on the special demand of our USA clients, was a big success in the history of DDIP’s, eliminating all the imperfections.


This provided a platform to gather world’s leading scientists in the field of Drug Discovery and development to discuss their latest researches, innovations, technological advancements and breakthroughs in the field of Drug Discovery and Development in the stimulating set up of The Bostonian Boston, USA on 2nd-3rd November 2017.

The Drug Discovery Conference was an electrifying event where executives met fellow key decision makers all around academic institutions, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotech, CRO’s making the conference a perfect place to share experience, foster collaboration through research talks and dedicated networking sessions.

The main idea of this year’s DDIP was to throw light on the recent advancement in the following areas:

Novel approaches in Drug Designing.
Advancement in Medicinal Chemistry.
Target identification and validation.
Emerging techniques and enabling technologies.
Big Data and Drug Discovery.
Specialized sessions on cancer, rare diseases, and Alzheimer immunotherapy.
Use of CRISPR / Cas9 for targeted expression profiling.
Disease-specific Drug Discovery.
Treatment therapies.
Hear what our Client’s Say; 

“Thank you very much again for inviting me to speak at last week’s DDIP, I enjoyed the conference a lot. Small enough to not get lost but big enough to meet some significant people”

Henning Mann, Scientific Director, Nortis Bio

“Thank you very much for enabling me to attend the DDIP meeting in Boston. This was an excellent meeting. I was very much impressed with the great organization, learned a lot about exciting new developments.”

Anka G. Ehrhardt, Director of Flow Cytometry, BMS

DDIP’s purpose to provide a platform where professionals from all over the world gather in one place and share their ideas and new advancement in the field of Pharma and biotech was met this year with our exceptional 2-day gathering in Boston

We would like to thank all the participants for making 4th DDIP a success.

Look forward to welcoming again in a new setting with a dynamic program next year in Boston, USA.

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University of Washington & Kidney Research Institute Kidney-on-a-chip will travel to International Space Station

Posted by Christopher Smoke on

UW Pharmacy and UW Medicine team to study how weightlessness accelerates kidney damage

In as early as 2018, a rocket carrying a payload that includes 24 microfluidic chips about the size of credit cards will transport an extraordinary University of Washington kidney research project to the International Space Station.

Researchers from UW School of Pharmacy and UW Medicine collaborate to advance kidney care (from left to right: Dr. Phavan Bhatraju, Pulmonary Fellow; Ranita Patel, Pediatric Nephrology Fellow; Elijah Weber, newly-minted PhD, Pharmaceutics; Kirk Van Ness, Research Scientist, Pharmaceutics; Christina Kim, Undergraduate Researcher; and Ed Kelly, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics and Kidney Research Institute Investigator)

 

Researchers from UW School of Pharmacy and UW Medicine collaborate to advance kidney care (from left to right: Dr. Phavan Bhatraju, Pulmonary Fellow; Ranita Patel, Pediatric Nephrology Fellow; Elijah Weber, graduate student, Pharmaceutics; Kirk Van Ness, Research Scientist, Pharmaceutics; Christina Kim, Undergraduate Researcher; and Ed Kelly, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics and Kidney Research Institute Investigator)Alex Levine

University of Washington School of Pharmacy and UW Medicine researchers, in collaboration with the Seattle-based organ-on-a-chip company, Nortis, have been developing the “kidney-on-a chip” as a laboratory model for understanding how this organ is affected by drugs, toxins and environmental exposures. The chips contain a central chamber lined with live kidney cells.

This novel space medicine project is an attempt to understand how microgravity and other factors worsen kidney health. Researchers hope to use these discoveries to design better treatments for proteinuria (the presence of protein in the urine that signals possible kidney problems), osteoporosis (bone loss) and kidney stones on Earth.

“Weightlessness is an accelerator,” said UW School of Pharmacy faculty member and Kidney Research Institute investigator Ed Kelly. “In the microgravity environment on the International Space Station, kidney problems are more common and develop in weeks or months, instead of decades. By studying the kidney on a chip after a few weeks in space, we expect to learn more about how osteoporosis, kidney stones and other kidney conditions develop, which may lead to breakthroughs in treatment and prevention.”

The first phase of the project will be to launch chips that measure the effect weightlessness has on healthy kidney cells. The second phase will launch about 18 months later and will measure the effect of weightlessness on diseased kidney cells. Astronauts on the space station will monitor and maintain the chips and then return them to Earth after several weeks for the UW team to examine.

A collaboration between UW School of Pharmacy, UW Medicine, Kidney Research Institute, and Nortis led to this advanced kidney-on-a-chip model designed for research on the International Space Station.

 

A collaboration between UW School of Pharmacy, UW Medicine, Kidney Research Institute, and Nortis led to this advanced kidney-on-a-chip model specifically designed for research on the International Space Station.

Jonathan Himmelfarb, of UW Medicine and director of the Kidney Research Institute, a collaboration between Northwest Kidney Centers and UW Medicine, along with researchers from the UW School of Pharmacy: Ken Thummel, Ed Kelly, and Cathy Yeung, have developed the kidney-on-a-chip system using technology developed by Nortis. The kidney chips contain a small sample of live human kidney cells to test how drugs will affect those cells. The system offers a safer, more accurate, less invasive means of testing drugs before they are tried in patients. Importantly, it will reduce the need for animal testing in drug discovery research.

“Use of the human kidney on a chip here on Earth has already taught us a lot about kidney function and kidney diseases,” said Himmelfarb. “The opportunity to study how physical cues emanating from loss of gravitational forces affect kidney cellular function has the potential to improve the health of people living on Earth as well as prevent medical complications that astronauts experience from weightlessness.”

The kidney is a critical organ in drug clearance. When healthy, your two kidneys work together to filter about 110 to 140 liters of blood and produce about 1 to 2 liters of urine every day. Dehydration or diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure impair kidney function and result in serious medical conditions including protein in the urine and kidney stones. The kidney also plays a critical role in the body’s ability to use Vitamin D to maintain strong bones; a decline in this function can result in a loss of bone health.

Eli Weber and Ed Kelly discuss the Kidney on a Chip project (chip can be seen on the microscope).

 

Eli Weber and Ed Kelly discuss the Kidney on a Chip project (Chip can be seen on the microscope).Alex Levine

A better understanding of the mechanics of basic kidney function could lead to improved treatments for patients fighting kidney conditions. Pharmaceutical scientists from the UW School of Pharmacy have significant knowledge on how drugs affect and are processed by the body. Their work in this area enhances the research done by UW Medicine and Kidney Research Institute clinicians.

The Kidney on a Chip in Space Project will study effects of microgravity on the structure and function of the proximal and distal tubule microphysiological system. This model is used in laboratory studies to understand how the kidney clears drugs and how medications damage the kidney. In people, the kidney proximal and distal tubules are located in the nephron, which is the basic functional part of the kidney. They are both convoluted, but have different structures. The new chip project extends previous work on modeling a proximal tubule by adding a distal tubule.

The UW School of Pharmacy, UW Medicine and Kidney Research Institute team have partnered with BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado to work with engineers who specialize in developing scientific testing equipment for space launch. The four-year, $3 million grant (1 UG3 TR002178-01) was awarded by National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the organization tasked by NASA to manage the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, will contribute the space flight, time in station, and Space Station crew costs, for an in-kind total of $8 million.

The official project kick off will be in late September at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

CASIS Press Release: CASIS and NCATS Announce Five Projects Selected from International Space Station Funding Opportunity Focused on Human Physiology Research: These initial grants are part of a four-year partnership to fund research onboard the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory

# # #

About UW School of Pharmacy: UWSOP is comprised of three departments: Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutics, and Pharmacy, offering Ph.D., M.S., and PharmD degrees, post docs and certificate programs. The UW School of Pharmacy is a global leader in pharmacy education, research and service, committed to providing a transformative learning experience in a collaborative and diverse environment focused on improving the health and well-being of the communities we serve.

About UW Medicine: UW Medicine is one of the top-rated academic medical systems in the world. With a mission to improve the health of the public, UW Medicine educates the next generation of physicians and scientists, leads one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive medical research programs, and provides outstanding care to patients from across the globe. UW Medicine’s four hospitals – Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, University of WashingtonMedical Center and Valley Medical Center – admit more than 63,000 patients each year. A network of hospital-based and outpatient clinics, including 12 UW Neighborhood Clinics, provides care for more than 1.3 million patients each year. For more information, visit uwmedicine.org.

About the Kidney Research Institute: The Kidney Research Institute supports the prevention, early detection and treatment of kidney disease and its complications. Founded in 2008 by Northwest Kidney Centers and UW Medicine, its mission is to conduct research that can improve the lives of those with kidney disease. Based at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the Kidney Research Institute uses findings from patient treatments to inform scientific investigations in the lab, and vice versa. Find out more at kri.washington.edu.

About Nortis: Nortis, Inc. is a company developing organ-on-chip technologies as alternatives for animal testing in academic research, pharmaceutical industry, environmental health and safety, and other areas. Nortis partners with leading researchers world wide to develop living models of human organs, like the kidney, in microfluidic chips that better predict outcome in humans.

About CASIS:  The Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is the non-profit organization selected to manage the ISS National Laboratory with a focus on enabling a new era of space research to improve life on Earth. In this innovative role, CASIS promotes and brokers a diverse range of research in life sciences, physical sciences, remote sensing, technology development, and education. Since 2011, the ISS National Lab portfolio has included hundreds of novel research projects spanning multiple scientific disciplines, all with the intention of benefitting life on Earth. Working together with NASA, CASIS aims to advance the nation’s leadership in commercial space, pursue groundbreaking science not possible on Earth, and leverage the space station to inspire the next generation.

About the ISS National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the International Space Station as the nation’s newest national laboratory to maximize its use for improving life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing STEM education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by other U.S. government agencies and by academic and private institutions, providing access to the permanent microgravity setting, vantage point in low Earth orbit, and varied environments of space.

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A pocket-size research revolution

Posted by Christopher Smoke on

UW School of Pharmacy team's work could change the future of precision medicine and kidney research — with a device the size of a credit card.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that while 15 percent of American adults have chronic kidney disease, most of them don’t even know it.

Only when the disease is in its later stages — when it’s often too late for reversal — do more severe symptoms cause people to seek help, says Catherine Yeung, research assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy.

An inability to track the early stages of chronic kidney disease leaves researchers like Yeung at a loss for what early biological markers might look like. There’s also much to learn about how kidney problems affect the body’s ability to eliminate medications.

At the School of Pharmacy, an interdisciplinary team is undertaking revolutionary work that could change the future of precision medicine and kidney research — all with a device the size of a credit card.

It’s called kidney-on-a-chip. Inside its small frame are thousands of live kidney cells that can model the functions of a human kidney.

A breakthrough in kidney research

“Kidneys are part of the ‘holy trinity’ of drug clearance,” says Edward Kelly, associate professor at the School of Pharmacy and the lead investigator on the project. “The intestine is involved in absorption, the liver is involved in metabolism and the kidneys are involved in excretion,” meaning they help the body clear medication via urine.

People with failing kidneys might not be able to process medications as efficiently as those with healthy kidneys. On top of that, there’s the possibility that certain medications could further compromise their kidneys. This is critical because — unlike the liver and other organs — the kidney lacks the ability to regenerate.

That’s where the UW is focusing with kidney-on-a-chip.

Working alongside Kelly and Yeung is Jonathan Himmelfarb, M.D., the Joseph W. Eschbach, M.D., Endowed Chair in Kidney Research at the UW School of Medicine and the internationally renowned director of the Kidney Research Institute, a collaborative effort between UW Medicine and Northwest Kidney Centers.

With support from both the UW and Northwest Kidney Centers, team members brought their expertise together for the kidney-on-a-chip project. They have already begun testing various drugs, including antibiotics that are less harmful to kidneys. Instead of giving patients experimental treatments that may or may not work, “We could see the effects in kidney-on-a-chip before we test them in humans,” says Kelly.

Kidney-on-a-chip heads to outer space

But what if you could speed up the development of kidney disease? In 2018, the UW team is sending kidney-on-a-chip to the one place where time does speed up: outer space.

Microgravity acts as an accelerant, so kidney problems that take decades to develop on Earth need only weeks or months on the International Space Station, where astronauts will study the chips over the course of a few weeks.

UW School of Pharmacy team’s work could change the future of precision medicine and kidney research — with a device the size of a credit card. (Provided by University of Washington)

Team member Kenneth Thummel, the Milo Gibaldi Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutics at the School of Pharmacy, has previous experience keeping astronauts healthy. With long-standing research interests in vitamin D metabolism and the regulation of mineral homeostasis, a key component of kidney function, Thummel was part of a special National Research Council committee that established guidelines for chemical exposure in spacecraft air and water.

Bone loss is a major concern for astronauts, Kelly says. “That’s why astronauts exercise and employ other means to counter this issue when they’re in space. Kidneys synthesize the active form of vitamin D, which is necessary to maintain healthy bones, so we’ll be asking if kidney cells still perform that function in microgravity.”

Sending the chips to the Space Station also stands to benefit another group of space travelers: the first Mars colonists.

The current record for the most consecutive days in space is 438 — but in theory, Mars colonists would remain for decades. After studying chips on the Space Station, researchers might have a better idea of how to help the human body withstand the effects of spending so much time in a lower-gravity environment.

For the researchers involved, kidney-on-a-chip might very well bring about changes in their lifetime, a rarity for big medical breakthroughs. This trailblazing science is made possible in large part by donors who support the Pharmaceutics Fund for Excellence, which invests in startup research projects like kidney-on-a-chip.

“As a pharmacist, I’m very satisfied to be able to show people what we’re doing and where their research dollars are going,” says Yeung. “With kidney-on-a-chip, we have an actual chance to impact the lives of patients.”

Learn more about the UW and kidney health.

This project is supported by a four-year, $3 million grant (1 UG3 TR002178-01) awarded by National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the organization tasked by NASA to manage the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, will contribute the space flight, time in station, and Space Station crew costs, for an in-kind total of $8 million. The content of this story is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of these agencies.

 

 

 

 

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A POCKET-SIZE RESEARCH REVOLUTION

Posted by Christopher Smoke on

With a device that can model a real kidney, researchers at the UW School of Pharmacy are giving new hope to people with kidney conditions — as well as astronauts who dream of exploring the farthest reaches of space.

Imagine that you live in a house on the beach.

Day to day, your view of the ocean never seems to change. But after 10 or 15 years, you look outside one morning and see the water lapping at your porch.

For many, that’s what it’s like to have kidney disease. “It slowly progresses over years, maybe even decades, but people often don’t know it until something goes wrong — until the water is at their door,” explains Catherine Yeung, research assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy.

15% of adults in the U.S. have chronic kidney disease

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that while 15 percent of American adults have chronic kidney disease, most of them don’t know it. Only when the disease is in its later stages — when it’s often too late for reversal — do more severe symptoms cause people to seek help.

An inability to track the early stages of chronic kidney disease leaves researchers like Yeung at a loss to understand what early biological markers might look like. There’s also much to learn about how kidney problems affect the body’s ability to eliminate medications.

At the School of Pharmacy, an interdisciplinary team is undertaking revolutionary work that could change the future of precision medicine and kidney research — all with a device the size of a credit card.

WHAT IS KIDNEY-ON-A-CHIP?

A breakthrough in kidney research

It’s called kidney-on-a-chip. Inside its small frame are thousands of live kidney cells that can model the functions of a human kidney. For pharmacy researchers, this device has opened up countless possibilities, as kidneys play a major role in the body’s ability to process medications.

“Kidneys are part of the ‘holy trinity’ of drug clearance,” says Edward Kelly, associate professor at the School of Pharmacy and lead investigator on the project. “The intestine is involved in absorption, the liver is involved in metabolism and the kidneys are involved in excretion,” he says, meaning that they help the body clear medication via urine.

People with failing kidneys might not be able to process medications as efficiently as those with healthy kidneys. On top of that, there’s the possibility that certain medications could further compromise unhealthy kidneys. This is critical because — unlike the liver and other organs — the kidney lacks the ability to regenerate.

Team member Jonathan Himmelfarb, M.D., holds an early prototype of kidney-on-a-chip.

Team member Jonathan Himmelfarb, M.D., holds an early prototype of kidney-on-a-chip.

Photograph of the Kidney on a Chip

That’s where the UW is focusing with kidney-on-a-chip.

Working alongside Kelly and Yeung is Jonathan Himmelfarb, M.D., the Joseph W. Eschbach, M.D., Endowed Chair in Kidney Research at the UW School of Medicine and the internationally renowned director of the Kidney Research Institute, a collaborative effort between UW Medicine and Northwest Kidney Centers.

“This big advance allows us to study the kidney in a very native, natural environment.”

— Catherine Yeung, Research Assistant Professor, UW School of Pharmacy

With support from both the UW and Northwest Kidney Centers, team members brought their expertise together for the kidney-on-a-chip project. The team was also instrumental in the design of the chip: They worked with UW spin-out Nortis to create a device that allows researchers to run medications through the system.

Previously, researchers would put kidney cells on a plate, add medications and examine the interaction. “But that’s not what happens in the body,” says Yeung. “In the body, there’s always blood flowing, and one of the things that we’ve been able to address with kidney-on-a-chip is that we have flow.” As a result, the chip functions as a kidney normally would. “We push media through the chip using a syringe, and it flows out,” says Kelly. The fluid is then collected and tested.

With a closed system, drugs can flow through the chip without requiring gravity to keep the fluids in contact with the cells. This distinguishing factor helped the UW team be selected for special research that they’ll conduct in a place where liquids don’t follow the laws of gravity — but more on that later.

A brighter future for patients everywhere

Kidney-on-a-chip is one of the UW’s many efforts to tackle today’s biggest medical challenges. By supporting the Pharmaceutics Fund for Excellence, you can help improve disease treatment and prevention around the world.

A faster, safer method for testing medications

By giving researchers the ability to test multiple drugs at the same time, the chip may lead to a quicker and safer approval process for new medications. Because the harmful effects of medications would be detected with the chip, the need for human and animal test subjects would drop dramatically.

The UW team has already begun testing various drugs, including antibiotics that are less harmful to kidneys.

“In one instance, we tested two antibiotics against each other,” describes Wade Washington, a sophomore at the UW and a researcher in Kelly’s lab. “With the chips, we could tell that at certain dosages, one drug was less nephrotoxic [damaging to the kidneys] than the other.”

Washington knows firsthand the impact this research could have. He was born with chronic kidney disease and underwent a successful transplant when he was 15.

“I took antibiotics after my transplant surgery,” Washington says. “For people like me with kidney disease, antibiotics can be a double-edged sword. I see the chips as definitely a better way to test for nephrotoxicity in new drugs.”

Kidney-on-a-chip heads to outer space

What if you could speed up the development of kidney disease? What if you could see the water creeping toward your front door inch by inch?

In 2018, the UW team will have the opportunity to find out. They’re sending kidney-on-a-chip to the one place where time does speed up: outer space.

Thanks to federal grants from the National Institutes of Health and NASA’s Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, kidney-on-a-chip will be sent to the one place where time does speed up: outer space.

Microgravity acts as an accelerant, so kidney problems that take decades to develop on Earth need only weeks or months on the International Space Station, where astronauts will study the chips over the course of a few weeks.

“Use of the kidney-on-a chip here on Earth has already taught us a lot about kidney function and kidney diseases,” says Himmelfarb. “The opportunity to study how the loss of gravitational forces affects kidney cellular function has the potential to improve the health of people on Earth, as well as prevent medical complications that astronauts experience from weightlessness.”

“Kidneys synthesize the active form of vitamin D, which is necessary to maintain healthy bones, so we’ll be asking if kidney cells still perform that function in microgravity.”

— Edward Kelly, Associate Professor, UW School of Pharmacy

Team member Kenneth Thummel, the Milo Gibaldi Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutics at the School of Pharmacy, has previous experience keeping astronauts healthy. With long-standing research interests in vitamin D metabolism and the regulation of mineral homeostasis, a key component of kidney function, Thummel was part of a special National Research Council committee that established guidelines for chemical exposure in spacecraft air and water.

Bone loss is also a major concern for astronauts, Kelly says. “That’s why astronauts exercise and employ other means to counter this issue when they’re in space. Kidneys synthesize the active form of vitamin D, which is necessary to maintain healthy bones, so we’ll be asking if kidney cells still perform that function in microgravity.”

Sending kidney-on-a-chip to the Space Station also stands to benefit another group of interstellar travelers: the first Mars colonists.

The current record for the most consecutive days in space is 438 — but in theory, Mars colonists would remain for decades. After studying chips on the Space Station, researchers might have a better idea of how to help the human body withstand the effects of spending so much time in a lower-gravity environment.

“Sending cells to space like this has never been done before,” says Yeung. “This is experimental in the truest sense of the word, which is incredibly exciting.”

Real-life impact for people with kidney disease

After the chips return from space, the UW team plans to use their improved understanding of kidney mechanics to test whether kidney-on-a-chip can be used to cure diseases, in addition to treating and preventing them.

Instead of giving patients experimental treatments that may or may not work, “We could see the effects in kidney-on-a-chip before we test them in humans,” says Kelly.

For the researchers involved, kidney-on-a-chip might very well bring about changes in their lifetime, a rarity for big medical breakthroughs. This trailblazing science is made possible in large part by donors who support the Pharmaceutics Fund for Excellence, which invests in startup research projects like kidney-on-a-chip.

A mission to improve the lives of people around the world — and the solar system — is shared across the UW as part of the Population Health Initiative. By leveraging capabilities and opportunities on campus and beyond, researchers will have the tools to create healthier and more fulfilling lives for all.

“As a pharmacist, I’m very satisfied to be able to show people what we’re doing and where their research dollars are going,” says Yeung. “With kidney-on-a-chip, we have an actual chance to impact the lives of patients.”

WHAT YOU CARE ABOUT CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

The University of Washington is undertaking its most ambitious campaign ever: Be Boundless — For Washington, For the World. Support groundbreaking research and the future of health care by contributing to the School of Pharmacy.

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