Webcam technology used to measure the effects of the drug “on the Heart

Researchers have developed a convenient, portable cell-based biosensor for detecting cardiotoxicity using a real-time image sensor with a webcam. They took cardiomyocytes derived from stem cells of mice and introduced cells to different drugs. Using the biosensor, the researchers were able to keep pace with beating cardiomyocytes in real time and detect drug-induced change in the rate of beating.Monitoring of cardiac cells in the past required the use of expensive equipment, which had an area of ‚Äč‚Äčlimited extent. This low cost biosensor is compatible with conventional equipment, but will allow reliable studies faster and more convenient.

The results were published in the journal Lab on a Chip, April 11, 2011.

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The technology offers a simple approach to conduct studies to evaluate the effects of various drugs on heart cells. Cardiotoxicity is a major problem in drug development, with more than 30 % of drugs withdrawn from the market between 1996 to 2006 because of heart problems.

‘Assessing the toxic effects of new drugs in the early stages of drug development can accelerate the process of drug discovery, thus saving costs and time, and that leads to the discovery of faster treatment,’ said Ali Khademhosseini, PhD , Center for Biomedical Engineering, Department of Medicine, BWH.