Monthly Archives: April 2017

Harvard’s Wyss Institute to use ‘Organ-on-a-Chip’ microdevices to evaluate therapies for lethal radiation exposure

Have you ever wondered how it would be if we could have a model which can predict the pharmacodynamic parameters in real time as that of a human? Guess, it not too far. Harvard University researchers have been working on a 3D – microfluidic system which integrates technology and medical research. It has been named as Organs-on-Chips (OC).

Organ – on – Chip (OC)

Now they have received a contract from US FDA for developing and testing one such model for Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS). ARS is an illness affecting a combination of organs that occurs when the body receives a high dose of radiation – over a short period of time – as would be expected to occur after a nuclear or radiological incident.

The development of medical countermeasures to treat ARS presents complex scientific challenges. For example, ARS may involve many organ systems, which makes it difficult to study candidate medical countermeasures that target the radiation effects on one specific organ system in animal models. In addition, certain candidate medical countermeasures cannot be effectively studied in animal models because their activity is specific to humans.

Project Description

Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering is developing organs-on-chips that mimic the structure, function, and interactions between the living tissues within human organs – such as the lung or intestine – on chips the size of a thumb drive.

Under the contract, Wyss Institute scientists will develop models of radiation damage in their lung, gut, and bone marrow organs-on-chips and then use these models to test candidate medical countermeasures to treat such damage. This will provide a capability to evaluate candidate medical countermeasures for ARS within the specific context of a target human organ system, which may yield valuable information for facilitating development.

Project Outcomes

This project will:

  • Advance the development of micro-physiological systems (organs-on-chips) that recapitulate many of the complicated interactions between cells and tissues that occur in the gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow, and lungs
  • Characterize how these organs-on-chips systems respond to radiation exposure and compare the responses against those known to occur in people and animals exposed to radiation
  • Link together the different organ-on-chips systems (for example, gut chip and bone marrow chip) and expose them to radiation to simulate the interplay between different organ systems exposed to radiation
  • Test candidate radiation medical countermeasures in the individual organs-on-chips and linked organ-on-chips systems

                                                                                                                             ——- US FDA Website

 For more information click here.

Now let us see about Organs– on – Chips

It is a multichannel 3D – Microfluidic culture chip, which simulates activities, mechanics and physiological response of entire organs and organ system. It mimics the function of a living human being on clear flexible microchip. It can be subjected to physiological conditions inside the body and can respond to infection, inflammation, environmental toxin and drugs. This can give more predictable response than cell culture and animal testing.

They have the potential to eliminate the poor drug formulations at the preclinical stage & can shorten drug developmental process & effort – Lower time/cost. This may replace animals in drug development and toxin testing and may also help to customise a drug to individual’s physiology, thereby represents a potential in the field on personalised medicine.

Different organs can be simulated using the OC. Also various organs can be simulated on a single chip – Human on Chip, acting as a homunculus, which gives a real time simulation of the whole human body with interaction between multiple organs. This can provide a predictable in-vitro disease model.

Human on Chip


  • Quick Analysis
  • High Throughput Screening (HTS)
  • Easily described by pharmacokinetic models
  • Accurate control of parameters (Laminar flow, Concentration gradient)
  • Integration of sensors (optoelectronic and others) for online monitoring of response


  • Not all properties can be studied or measured
  • Low material biocompatibility : material for fabrication (PDMC, polycarbonate, polyester)
  • Single use device – difficult to sterilize
  • Extrapolation to complete organs not possible
  • Limited or no application on chronic diseases, adaptive immune responses, complex system level behaviors of endocrine, skeletal and nervous systems
  • Short time frame
  • High development and manufacturing costs

Click here watch WYSS institute video on Organ on Chip.

Here I would like to thank Dr. Shashidar , CEO of Esavyasa for introducing me to this field of organ on chip


Pharmethicon – CME on Bioethics | GMC, Calicut, Kerala | April 22,2017

Department of Pharmacology, Govt. Medical College, Calicut will be organising a one day CME titled “PHARMETHICON” on Bioethics – The Current Perspectives on April 22, 2017.

For registration fee and program scedule, refere the brochure below.


Valbenazine for Tardive Dyskinesia | FDA Approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Ingrezza (valbenazine) capsules to treat adults with tardive dyskinesia. This is the first drug approved by the FDA for this condition.

Tardive dyskinesia is a serious side effect sometimes seen in patients who have been treated with antipsychotic medications, especially the older medications, for long periods to treat chronic conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Tardive dyskinesia can also occur in patients taking antipsychotic medications for depression and certain medications for gastrointestinal disorders and other conditions. It is unclear why some people who take these medications develop tardive dyskinesia yet others do not.

Valbenazine is known to cause reversible reduction of dopamine release by selectively inhibiting pre-synaptic human vesicular monoamine transporter type 2 (VMAT2). In vitro, valbenazine shows great selectivity for VMAT2 and little to no affinity for VMAT1 or other monoamine receptors. Although the exact cause of tardive dyskinsia is unknown, it is hypothesized that it may result from neuroleptic-induced dopamine hypersensitivity. By selectively reducing the ability of VMAT2 to load dopamine into synaptic vesicles, the drug reduces overall levels of available dopamine in the synaptic cleft, ideally alleviating the symptoms associated with dopamine hypersensitivity. The importance of valbenazine selectivity inhibiting VMAT2 over other monoamine transporters is that VMAT2 is mainly involved with the transport of dopamine, and to a much lesser extent other monoamines such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and histamine. This selectivity is likely to reduce the likelihood of “off-target” adverse effects which may result from the upstream inhibition of these other monoamines.

Vesicular Monoamine Transporter 2


VMAT2 inhibition

Read more about it here.

Older VAMP2 inhibitor: Tetrabenazine

Tetrabenazine is a drug for the symptomatic treatment of hyperkinetic movement disorders. On August 15, 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of tetrabenazine to treat chorea associated with Huntington’s disease. Although other drugs had been used “off label,” tetrabenazine was the first approved treatment for Huntington’s disease in the U.S. The compound has been known since the 1950s.


Workshop on Human Bioethics | April 26, 2017 | JIPMER, Puducherry

Division of Research & Department of Clinical Pharmacology, JIPMER will be organising a one day workshop on Human Bioethics on April 26, 2017.

Topics to be Covered

•General ethical issues
•Responsibilities and review procedures of Institute Ethics committee
•ICMR ethical principles for special groups as research participants
•ICMR ethical principles for clinical evaluation of Vaccines – Devices/diagnostics  – Herbal drugs
•ICMR ethical guidelines 2006 vs 2016 – an overview
•Ethical guidelines for Regulatory Clinical Trials
•General ethical guidelines for biobank / repository

Target audiences

Members of Ethics Committee, Clinical Trials Committee, Scientific Committee, Postgraduate/ Undergraduate/ Nursing research monitoring committees etc., Faculty and Postgraduates interested in ethical guidelines of biomedical research

Registration fee
Before April 20, 2017 : ₹ 500 /-, April 21 to April 25, 2017 : ₹ 800 /-
Spot registration : ₹ 1,000 /-

For Brochure and Registration from click here.
For online payment:
Account name: Human Bioethics, Bank of Baroda, JIPMER EC, Pondicherry.
Account no: 9834100003512 IFSC code: BARB0JIPMER
Registration acknowledgement and other correspondences will be by e-mail only.
Registrations are accepted on a first come first serve basis. The workshop is limited to 50 participants only.


National Workshop on Pharmacoeconomics | June 16-17, 2017 | PIMS, Pudhucherry

Department of Pharmacology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in association Indian Medical Pharmacologists Association (IMPA) will be conducting a “National Workshop on Pharmacoeconomics” on June 16 – 17, 2017.

This will be a hands-on workshop and the participants are requested to bring their laptops.

Pharmacoeconomics (PE) is an emerging branch in health sciences for decision making. Incorporating the principles and methods of pharmacoeconomics into clinical practice quantifies the value of pharmacotherapy through balancing costs and outcomes. The organisers have invited speakers with immense knowledge & experience in HEOR sectors and the academic institutes. Details of them are as below.

Dr. K.R. John, Professor & Head, Community Medicine, Apollo Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, Chittoor.
Dr. Sujith J ChandyProfessor, Pharmacology & Clinical Pharmacology, CMC, Vellore
Dr. Amit Dang, Founder and CEO, MarksMan Healthcare Solutions & President, International Society for Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research ( ISPOR ) – Mumbai Chapter
Mr. Mahendra Kumar Rai, Delivery Head, HEOR & Market Access at TCS, Mumbai & President-elect, International Society for Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research ( ISPOR )– Mumbai Chapter
Dr. Sachidananda Adiga, Professor & Head, Pharmacology, Karwar Institute of Medical Sciences, Karwar
Dr. Jayanthi.M, Associate Professor, Pharmacology, JIPMER, Puducherry

Objectives of the workshop
(*) To introduce the basic principles of Pharmacoeconomics
(*) To provide hands on experience on the various types of pharmacoeconomic analyses
(*)To sensitize the participants to undertake pharmacoeconomic research in their respective institutions

Target Audience
Faculty & postgraduate students of Pharmacology and other specialities

Registration fee
Rs. 2000/- for faculty
Rs. 1500/- for postgraduates ( Please attach bonafide certificate from HOD / Head of the Institution along with the registration form)

“SPOT REGISTRATION will not be entertained”

Steps of Registration
Fill in the registration form along with the DD (or) NEFT details and send either by post (or) email respectively on or before May 31, 2017.


Registration Form

Account details (For online transfer/NEFT)
Bank name: Central Bank of India, PIMS branch, Puducherry
Account no.: 1235532088
IFSC code: CBIN0284147

You can also register/pay by your credit/debit card through PlexusMD, our online ticketing partner. Click here.

Number of participants is restricted to 40 only.

For Program brochure, Click here.

Facebook RSVP, click here.

Also,dont forget to visit Matri Mandir_Auroville by morning & to get a glimpse of pondy’s weekend night life!

  • Serenity Beach, Rock Beach
  • Nehru Street, Mission Street & White Town: Shopping and Food
  • Sri Aurobindo Ashram
  • ManakulaVinayagar Temple
  • Nice cathedrals
  • Paradise Island