Within ten years’ time it will be our goal to generate heart models that mimic the human heart and reliably predict the patient’s response to new drugs. In addition, we expect to generate robust, highly defined functional multi-cellular heart tissues, which can be coupled to mimics of other organs. The new heart model systems will enable, for example, the study of the effects of the liver’s metabolic products on the heart or of the interaction between the immune system and the heart. With our advanced sensor technology we will be able to easily pick up biomarkers, increasing our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of heart failure and facilitating drug target discovery and safety pharmacology.
The hearts-on-chip that are based on iPS cells from cardiac patients will also result in more accurate risk assessment of new drugs, as it becomes possible to match patients from genetic subpopulations to specific drugs, by using companion diagnostics. It is even conceivable that drugs that have been withdrawn from the market because of adverse side effects, are reintroduced, because the iPS based models can accurately predict which patients will benefit from it and which will not.
In the distant future hDMT’s technology may also be useful for regenerative medicine, when it becomes possible to print a tailor-made piece of three-dimensional multi-cellular heart tissue, extracellular matrix included, in order to replace the part of the heart muscle that got damaged during a myocardial infarction.