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Free Safety Testing in Human Liver Models for Exploratory COVID-19 Treatments

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InSphero AG, a company specializing in 3D cell-based assay technology, has announced that it will offer free safety testing for exploratory COVID-19 medications and coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine formulations. These COVID-19 tests will be based on InSphero‘s 3D InSight™ Human Liver models and available to any organization (academic, governmental or industrial) that wants to conduct risk assessments on their treatments in development.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is unchartered territory for us all,” says InSphero CEO and co-founder Jan Lichtenberg, Ph.D. “New types of antiviral compounds and vaccines are being developed in record time to reduce time to market due to the urgent need for COVID-19 treatments and immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As of today, our drug testing facilities are fully operational and we decided we can best support the global response to this pandemic by providing free access to our 3D in vitro toxicology platform, so researchers can quickly assess the safety of new compounds in the principle organ of drug metabolism: the liver.”

New therapeutic modalities, such as RNA based vaccines are not always suitable for classical safety testing, which typically includes translational testing using animal models. InSphero’s 3D in vitro human liver models can mimic liver function for up to four weeks in the lab. These co-culture models, comprised of primary human hepatocytes and NPCs (which are important for capturing the immune response), represent the smallest functional unit of a human liver and are highly predictive for identifying safety hazards. The testing technology is fast (typically, a three week turnaround) to ensure drug development programs move forward swiftly and offer a new, efficient way to test novel modalities as well as classical compounds.

“This is a global program and InSphero will absorb the cost for testing as our contribution to the fight against the disease,” adds InSphero CBO Frank Junker, Ph.D. “We will respond to requests on a first-come-first-serve basis and will guarantee that a minimum of three compounds will be tested per program, so that we can serve a wide range of organizations working on different medicines that will potentially help stem this pandemic.“

In early March, InSphero implemented a business continuity plan to address the public health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes extensive home office use by our staff as well as measures to ensure smooth and reliable operations.