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GEN News Highlights : Nov 15, 2006

Drug Safety Prediction Model Funded

GNS awarded $1.6M for development of cardiac computer simulation platform.

Gene Network Sciences (GNS) received a phase II SBIR from the NHLBI. The three-year, $1.6 million grant will be used to further develop VisualHeart, the company's cardiac modeling software platform.

VisualHeart incorporates data on a drug's effect at the molecular/ion channel level into a mechanistic simulation of cardiac electrical activity to determine proarrhythmic markers and mechanism of action. The technology is designed to improve risk assessment of new drug candidates in clinical trials by simulating a drug's effect on the electrocardiogram, including the long QT index.

“A fundamental problem facing safety pharmacologists is the translation of results from one experimental model, such as a HERG screen, into more complicated systems, such as action potential assays or whole animal experiments," says Jeffrey Fox, vp of research at GNS and the principal investigator of the grant. “We've developed our technology using a model-agnostic approach, which allows us to quickly translate results between assays involving different systems and to incorporate and build on the solid foundation of work done by heart modeling pioneers.”

Central to the GNS methodology is the combination of experimental data and computational methods. As part of the grant, the company will collaborate with several research laboratories to generate the necessary experimental data and with IBM, which has agreed to contribute Blue Gene supercomputing power and expertise to the project.