Draper inks Pfizer deal for preclinical work

Draper has signed a three-year deal with Big Pharma giant Pfizer to help predict clinical outcomes from an early stage through the use of its Microphysiological Systems (MPS) tech.

Under the deal, monetary terms of which were not given, Pfizer will tap Draper’s tech with the aim of improving preclinical safety testing and creating more effective disease models.

Draper’s MPS technology, aka organs-on-a-chip technology, is set up to measure tissue function “more accurately and more quickly than in traditional preclinical models,” the company said, which should speed up the process and allow better predictions on future efficacy.

In the collab Pfizer, Draper says it is building three unique MPS models for liver, vascular and gastrointestinal organs.

Given that so many meds fail before getting to phase 3, a costly trial and error process for biopharmas, Draper hopes that its tech could help better see how well certain candidates will do in later testing, and also potentially improve safety.

“We’re engineering an environment that encourages cells to function in vitro as they would in specific human organs in vivo,” explained Joseph Charest, who directs the MPS technology development in Draper’s Biomedical Solutions program office.

“We believe that the real value proposition of Draper’s technology is that, in addition to creating the optimal environment for cell function, our sensing technology measures the function of the cells directly and in real-time while our format ensures the system will scale to high levels of throughput.”

“If we’re successful, this technology may enable new patient therapies that are safer and more precisely tailored to a disease, a population or a specific patient,” added Tara Clark, Draper’s VP of commercial solutions. “We hope to demonstrate that MPS technology has the potential to reduce risks and costs, and improve translation into the clinic.”

John Burkhardt, VP of drug safety research and development at Pfizer, added: “Finding a more efficient way to bridge the translation gap would enable us to humanize the drug discovery process and reduce dependence on other two-dimensional models, and ultimately to more quickly bring new medicines to patients who need them.”