Pfizer might be able to identify potential safety issues of drug candidates in early stages, as it has licensed a human cell line from Absorption Systems designed to do just that.
What Pfizer has an eye on is a cell line transfected with the human SLCO1B1 gene, which codes for organic anion-transporting polypeptide (OATP) 1B1, a drug transporter.
Drug transporters play a key role in the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of drugs. They are usually monitored during drug R&D, and their importance has been recognized by drug regulatory authorities.
Chris Bode, VP of scientific & corporate communications at Absorption Systems, raised the example of statins to explain his point. Some statins require a hepatic uptake transporter such as OATP1B1 to get into the liver—the target organ. In people expressing a different form of OATP1B1, the drug is less effective because less of it gets into the liver, and side effects such as muscle soreness are more common because more drug circulates and is taken up into muscle cells.
The regulatory agencies require in vitro testing of drug candidates’ interactions with certain drug transporters. Using transfected cell lines can help drug developers better understand the pharmacokinetics of a drug and factors that could impact them, explained Bode in a written response.
What’s more important is that it’s possible to predict dangerous drug-drug interactions—which usually involve drugs that are substrates or inhibitors of main transporters like OATP1B1—before a drug is tested on human.
Absorption Systems also owns a cell line performance tracking system called CellPort Analytics. Maintaining stability and reproducibility has been key barriers in managing cell assays. Bode said Absorption’s solution is to closely monitor the conditions of cells. To achieve that, it has developed a software called CellPort Analytics.
“[The software] tracks location, treatment and performance of all of our cell lines from cryotank to assay plate,” said Bode. “It provides real-time instructions to scientists using a particular cell line on how to feed, split, and store that line. It records the reagents, culture medium, and instruments that were used, as well as which scientist performed the operations.”
The deal marked the first one for this cell line, but Bode said several others are pending for execution.