Novoheart, a global stem cell biotechnology company, co-founded by Professors Michelle Khine, Ronald Li, and Kevin Costa, listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX Venture Exchange on September 15th. The company is expanding by opening a flagship office, their first US location, at the Cove, as it progresses toward its mission of transforming drug discovery and the development of heart therapeutics. The Cove, home to UCI Applied Innovation and other key organizations, features 46,000 square feet of technological facilities and collaborative office space. This complex supports the burgeoning innovation and entrepreneur ecosystem in Orange County.
As a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Director of both Faculty Innovation in UCI’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and BioENGINE program, Prof. Khine, now on Novoheart’s advisory team, has developed inventions with Prof. Li that were licensed by the company from The Regents of the University of California. The inventions were developed in the Khine Lab at the UCI School of Engineering in Department of Biomedical Engineering, serving as a foundational technology for Novoheart. Additionally, Novoheart has engaged with Applied Innovation for an Industry Sponsored Research project.
Novoheart’s research on the human ventricular cardiac anisotropic sheet (hvCAS) as a powerful tool for detecting drug-induced arrhythmias was featured in a recent issue of Advanced Materials, a prestigious international, peer-reviewed bioengineering journal in addition to others of the series previously published in Advanced Materials, Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Part C, etc.
“The success of this revolutionary work was based on a decade long productive collaborative relationship between the my laboratory and that of Professor Li for developing micro-fabrication technologies to strategically align human heart cells by design in a fashion that is most similar to that of the native human hearts,” said Khine.
Currently, development of a new drug candidate costs US$2-4bn, can take over 10 years to develop and maintains an extremely poor success rates with fewer than 1% of initial drug candidates reaching commercialization. The primary cause for drug withdrawal and attrition is heart toxicity. For the first time, hvCAS is able to predict and visualise torsadegenicity (i.e. the undesired side effect of leading to lethal arrhythmias) of a range of drugs including flecainide, procainamide and cisapride that were previously withdrawn in clinical trials by paradoxically increasing the mortality through lethal arrhythmias among the 1700 tested patients. This represents a revolutionary tool to assess preclinical drug-induced arrhythmogenicity without involving human individuals. Novoheart and the Khine lab are also working on other disruptive technologies such as advanced human heart surrogates and artificial intellegience for pre-screening and optimization of drug formulations, ultimately minimizing risks and maximizing safety and efficacy for patients.
“We are very excited to begin trading on the TSX Venture Exchange as we open the door for new investors to share in the exciting future our company holds,” said Ronald Li, CEO of Novoheart. “We are at a critical juncture as an organization in that we have a window of opportunity to capitalize on, both scientifically and commercially. Having the necessary capital to expand our facilities and actively pursue further commercial opportunities with pharmaceutical companies while maintaining our relationship with existing ones is key to our success. I am ecstatic about what the future holds for Novoheart and look forward to what’s in store.”