Novoheart (“Novoheart” or the “Company”), a global stem cell biotechnology company, is pleased to announce a collaboration with global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, in an effort to develop the world’s first human-specific in vitro, functional model of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), a common condition especially among the elderly and in women, with the reported prevalence approaching 10% in women over the age of 80 years.

Heart failure (HF) is a global pandemic with an estimated 64.3 million cases worldwide in 2017, with an increasing trend in prevalence. The annual global economic burden of HF is estimated at over US$100 billion. Accounting for approximately 50% of HF cases, HFpEF in particular is a major and growing public health problem worldwide, with its pathological mechanisms and diverse etiology poorly understood. Due to these complexities, models of the disease available to date, including various animal models, have limited ability to mimic the clinical presentation of HFpEF. Therefore, drug developers lack an effective tool for preclinical testing of drug candidates for efficacy, and as a result, clinical outcomes for HFpEF have not improved over the last decades, with no effective therapies available.

In collaboration with the Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolism therapy area of AstraZeneca, the initial phase of the project aims to establish a new in vitro model, leveraging Novoheart’s proprietary 3-D human ventricular cardiac organoid chamber (hvCOC) technology, that reproduces key phenotypic characteristics of HFpEF. Also known as “human heart-in-a-jar”, the hvCOC is the only human engineered heart tissue available on the market to date that enables clinically informative assessment of human cardiac pump performance including ejection fraction and developed pressure. Unlike animal models, engineered hvCOCs can be fabricated with specific cellular and matrix compositions, and patient-specific human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), that allow control over their physical and mechanical properties to mimic those observed in HFpEF patient hearts. Together with Novoheart’s proprietary hardware and software, this aims to provide a unique assay for understanding the mechanisms of HFpEF, identification of new therapeutic targets, and assessment of novel therapeutics for treating HFpEF patients. Novoheart will exclusively own the intellectual property rights to the newly developed HFpEF hvCOC model.

We are delighted to partner with AstraZeneca, an organization which has long invested in cardiovascular research and is committed to bringing new therapeutic solutions to patients with heart failure. We look forward to co-developing this new HFpEF hvCOC model into a powerful new tool in the worldwide battle against heart failure.”

Dr. Kevin Costa, Novoheart CSO

Regina Fritsche Danielson, Senior Vice President, Head of Research and Early Development, Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolism, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, said:

There are significant unmet treatment needs in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. By combining Novoheart’s proprietary hvCOC model with our expertise in heart failure, we aim to create the first in vitro model reproducing phenotypic characteristics of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. This could bridge the gap between in vivo animal models and clinical trials to help accelerate the drug discovery process by providing human-specific preclinical data.”