Improving reliability and reducing costs of cardiotoxicity assessments using laser-induced cell poration on microelectrode arrays
Drug-induced cardiotoxicity is a major barrier to drug development and a main cause of withdrawal of marketed drugs. Drugs can strongly alter the spontaneous functioning of the heart by interacting with the cardiac membrane ion channels. If these effects only surface during in vivo preclinical tests, clinical trials or worse after commercialization, the societal and economic burden will be significant and seriously hinder the efficient drug development process. Hence, cardiac safety pharmacology requires in vitro electrophysiological screening assays of all drug candidates to predict cardiotoxic effects before clinical trials. In the past 10 years, microelectrode array (MEA) technology began to be considered a valuable approach in pharmaceutical applications. However, an effective tool for high-throughput intracellular measurements, compatible with pharmaceutical standards, is not yet available. Here, we propose laser-induced optoacoustic poration combined with CMOS-MEA technology as a reliable and effective platform to detect cardiotoxicity. This approach enables the acquisition of high-quality action potential recordings from large numbers of cardiomyocytes within the same culture well, providing reliable data using single-well MEA devices and single cardiac syncytia per each drug. Thus, this technology could be applied in drug safety screening platforms reducing times and costs of cardiotoxicity assessments, while simultaneously improving the data reliability.