Golden
Hesperos

Hesperos

Hesperos is a biotechnology company that develops human-on-a-chip systems that integrate several body organ modules to replicate organ interplay that can be used to analyse drug candidates and compounds for efficacy and toxicity and also study disease.

Hesperos develops realistic human tissue models that are multi-organ low volume systems composed of human-derived cells in a serum-free medium with pump-free circulation. The in vitro microphysiological platform moves the cellular medium with rocking motion and allows noninvasive electronic and mechanical readouts for chronic and acute drug studies. Their systems represent human cardiac, skeletal muscle, neuronal, liver, vascular, blood brain barrier, gastrointestinal tract, neuromuscular junctions and combinations of these organ modules.



Hesperos has been recognized for developing innovative alternatives to animal testing and won the 2015 Lush Prize for Science. Besides addressing ethical concerns, human tissue systems developed by Hesperos could speed up drug development, since drugs tested in animals is time consuming and often do not give the same results in humans. 



Hesperos has developed a human-human neuromuscular model for the study of diseases of abnormal neuromuscular junction which include neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and spinal muscular atrophy. The technology was described in 2018 in Biomaterials by CSO James Hickman from the Hybrid Systems Laboratory at University of Central Florida. The technology is available as a fee-for-service assay and is licensed to Hesperos. 



The BioMEMs (biomedical microelectromechanical systems) design recreates functional human neuronal connections to the skeletal muscle, which is unlike other test systems that use co-cultures, biomarker or protein analysis. The microfluidic device is serum-free and made with silicone membrane with tiny tunnels. Nerve cells (motoneurons) and skeletal muscle cells (myoblasts) are grown from human stem cells that are plated on opposite sides of the membrane, so they are electrically and chemically isolated. Over a period of days, muscle cells for muscle fibers and motoneurons project axons sending their long slender projections through the microtunnels to form neuromuscular junctions with the muscle. The conduit for communication formed is similar to that which forms in the human body. Mini muscles can be contracted by motoneuron activation or by direct electrical stimulation. 



The system can be used to test the effects of drugs. Several drugs used in the system including curare toxin, alpha bungarotoxin and the approved drug botulinum toxin (BOTOX) gave similar results to live human data, suggesting the model replicates the live human system. In addition to drug testing, the system can allow observation of neuromuscular systems during disease progression to inform treatment decisions. 



Timeline

People

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James J. Hickman, PhD

CSO, Founder



Michael Shuler, PhD

CEO, Founder



Torsten Hoffmann, PhD

Senior consultant for drug discovery



Further reading

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Hesperos gains NIH funding for Alzheimer's 'human-on-a-chip' trials | FierceBiotech

Ben Adam

Web



Hesperos Human-on-a-Chip Technology Awarded $4 Million Phase IIb SBIR Grant

BioSpace

Web



Hesperos, Inc. Awarded $2 Million Phase II SBIR Grant to Commercialize Body-on-a-Chip Technology and Reduce the Cost and Time of Drug Development - UCF Business Incubation Program - University of Central Florida

Business Incubation Program - University of Central Florida

Web



Hesperos' multi-organ 'human-on-a-chip' found effective for long-term toxicology testing

EurekAlert

Web



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