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Viscient Biosciences Announces First Drug Discovered in 3D Bioprinted Models

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Viscient Bio, Inc. announced it has identified the world's first drug candidate discovered primarily using 3D bioprinted tissue models of disease formed from human cells.  Viscient expects to develop the drug to treat non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a growing epidemic disease that is believed to affect more than 10% of the US population.  NASH can often lead to hepatocellular carcinoma or liver failure.  Due to the devastating effects of NASH on patients and its wide prevalence, analysis have projected future pharma industry revenues for the drug in the tens of billions of dollars per year.

Viscient's lead compound is an orally delivered small molecule designed to hit a novel target identified in 3D bioprinted and other 3D tissue models of disease.  In preclinical studies, the drug has proven to be well tolerated. In Viscient's models of disease, the compound shows reduction of fibrosis as measured by histological evidence similar to that used for human liver biopsy.  Using the same model, fibrosis reduction is also seen for obeticholic acid and resmetirom, while no fibrosis reduction is seen for drugs such as cenicriviroc, selonsertib, and elafibranor.  The newly discovered target is predominantly expressed in liver tissue.

"It is long past time to displace the model of drug development reliant on proof of activity in animals," said Viscient chief executive officer Keith Murphy.  "Viscient's trailblazing work has resulted in 3d cellular human models of disease in which the performance of previously tested compounds has matched clinical results.  Failed NASH drugs never would have been put in humans based on what can be clearly seen in these models.  Our novel compound shows fibrosis reduction in these models, as do NASH drugs known to work in Phase 3, and we are excited to move this lead program forward."

The lead compound's clear reduction of fibrosis in Viscient's NASH models is promising because Viscient's 3D models of NASH have shown extremely high correlation with clinical results in patients.  The model demonstrates fibrosis reduction for known clinical compounds tested by pharma companies that have that effect in humans, while revealing lack of fibrosis reduction for compounds that failed in Phase 2 or Phase 3 for NASH.  The model is accurate in predicting both successes and failures among clinical compounds tested to date.  The gene expression of Viscient's models is also well correlated with that seen in disease samples from patients.  Though tested post-hoc, the results are not backfit, as the model was finalized before testing of any clinical compounds was conducted.

According to the Biotechnology Innovation Organization's 2021 report, only 7.9% of drugs that enter clinical trials are approved for human use.  Viscient Biosciences believes that we can achieve a significantly better clinical translation rate than that using more relevant 3D human tissue models of disease, leading to more successes and lower drug development costs per approved drug.  Viscient is leading the world in creation of human tissue models with accurate disease relevance, and demonstrating the application of these models to drug development at every stage.



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