‘Heart-in-a-Jar’ Could Save Pharma Companies Billions

The Novoheart is a tiny beating heart-like structure composed of stem cells. It's used for drug testing and is changing the way drugs make it to market.

Novoheart / Image: Novoheart
Novoheart / Image: Novoheart

Taking a drug from initial concept to clinical trial takes about a decade and a billion dollars. A recent CBC News article discussed a new concept: a ‘heart-in-a-jar’ that’s posed to save pharmaceutical companies years of development and a lot of money. The Novoheart is an actual beating heart-like structure made of stem cells that could revolutionize the path to market for new drugs.

Creating the heart valves is a multi-step process where scientists reprogram blood cells into stem cells that are then manipulated into heart cells. Millions of these heart cells form a Jello-O like solution that grows into a mold taking the shape of the “heart.” Once fully formed, the mini heart beats allowing scientists to measure the pace, similar to a heart rate. Pharmaceutical companies have already expressed interest, but Novoheart must file paperwork with the securities regulator before divulging details.

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