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Medtech Impact on Wellness

Dr. James Hickman, Ph.D., and Chief Science Officer of Hesperos (, the ‘Human-on-a-Chip’ company, delivers a thorough overview of his work designing custom systems for disease modeling and drug testing.

Hickman is a pioneer in his field and noted for Hesperos’ technological ‘Human-on-a-Chip’ platform. Dr. Hickman is renowned for his work in general, and for publishing the very first serum-free, defined culture system specifically for neuronal systems (Schaffner, Barker, et al.

1995), which has now been extended from rat to mouse, and more recently—to human. Hickman is also recognized for his work that established functional in vitro systems.

Dr. Hickman explains the origins of Hesperos. As the Ph.D. explains, he combined his technology… functional in vitro systems and his collaborator’s multi-organ metabolic systems to create, as the old axiom states, an end result in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This collaboration between Dr. Hickman and Michael L. Shuler, Ph.D. led to the beginning of Hesperos.

Dr. Hickman explains functional readouts, and how they recreate functions such as muscle contractions, cardiac electrical activity, and force, neuronal communication, etc.

and combine them into a multi-organ system where the fluid is recirculating. Dr. Hickman explains the Hesperos method and what they offer. Hesperos can provide four human-on-a-chip systems specifically designed for disease modeling and drug testing. And their multi-organ, human-based screening platforms are successful as a means to identify first-in-class drugs and develop unique medicines for complex diseases.

The Ph.D. explains the differences between in vivo tissue engineering and in vitro tissue engineering in regard to reproducing function. Further, he discusses their hopes and expectations for approval to the clinical trial phase, for drugs that have been tested in the Hesperos systems. He talks about some of the FDA requirements for drugs, in regard to how the drugs work within systems, how long they stay active, etc. Dr. Hickman explains how the Hesperos system is especially great for difficult, rare diseases, as they can build a phenotypic model, produce aspects of the disease, and then demonstrate that the disease can be reversed or ameliorated.

Wrapping up, Dr. Hickman talks about the specific types of models that their clients have requested. And as most of what Hesperos delivers is custom designed, there is a great scientific opportunity on the horizon.

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