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  • Webcam measures medications’ effects on heart

BioPhotonics
Jul 2011
Compiled by BioPhotonics staff

BOSTON – A tool using basic webcam technology enables real-time study of medications’ effects on heart cells – called cardiomyocytes – including any drug-induced changes in the beating rate. The technology could help drug makers and prescribers address a side effect of drugs called cardiotoxicity – an unhealthy change in the way the heart beats.

Scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have developed a cost-effective, portable cell-based biosensor for real-time cardiotoxicity detection using an image sensor from a basic webcam. Using the biosensor to monitor the beating rates and to detect any drug-induced changes, they introduced various drugs to cardiomyocytes derived from mouse stem cells.


Using an image sensor from a basic webcam, scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed a portable cell-based biosensor for real-time detection of cardiotoxicity.


The new technique provides a simple approach to performing evaluative studies of different drugs’ effects on cardiac cells.

“Assessing the toxic effects of new drugs during the early phases of drug development can accelerate the drug discovery process, resulting in significant cost and time savings, and leading to faster treatment discovery,” said Ali Khadem-hosseini, PhD, of the Center for Biomedical Engineering at the Department of Medicine at BWH.

In addition, the technology could play a role in personalized medicine. The biosensor could be used to monitor cardiac cells that have been introduced to medication, providing a glimpse of how the drug affects the individual’s heart, which could help doctors shape the treatment plan for that patient.

The researchers hope to combine the detection system with their microwell arrays to screen thousands of drugs simultaneously in a fast, reliable manner, Khademhosseini said.


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