The BBB behaves as a highly selective semipermeable membrane separating circulating blood from the central nervous system while allowing the passage of glucose, water, and amino acids into the cerebrospinal fluid. The BBB protects brain nervous tissue from the fluctuation of plasma composition, from pathogenic agents, and maintains homeostasis of the brain parenchyma by restricting non-specific flux of ions, peptides, proteins and cells into and out the brain. The BBB is permeable to hydrophobic molecules and utilizes active transport to move ions, glucose and other critical molecules across the membrane. When functioning properly, the BBB is a complex barrier that must be overcome when trying to deliver therapeutics to the brain. Due to the challenges with therapeutics crossing the blood brain barrier, researchers need access to tools that can replicate this process in vitro.
Neuromics began to partner with Visikol in 2019 on this assay as “We were impressed with Visikol’s reputation, resources and expertise, and were excited to have our 3-D BBB Model as a platform option for high content and throughput screening of new drug targets for some of the world’s most insidious neuro-diseases”, said Pete Shuster, CEO of Neuromics. Together, Visikol and Neuromics have combined their expertise in model development and advanced characterization tools to develop a BBB in vitro assay that meets this distinct Client need. “As a company, we are model and disease agnostic and are excited to have this opportunity to leverage the Neuromics portfolio of models to provide our Clients a novel and best-in-class assay in the neuroscience space”, explained Visikol CEO Dr. Michael Johnson. Previously, the Visikol suite of in vitro services was heavily focused in the toxicology and oncology spaces which have gained more rapid adoption throughout the market compared to neuronal 3D cell culture systems which are still heavily based in academia. “One of the first fields that we went into as a company when we first started was neuroscience but from the perspective of looking at whole mouse brains in 3D using tissue clearing and advanced microscopy. It is great to see this work come full circle and to start seeing our imaging and image analysis tools being deployed with in vitro neuronal systems for studying complex diseases and processes such as the kinetics of compounds crossing the BBB”, described Visikol CSO Dr. Tom Villani.
According to Visikol CSO, Dr. Tom Villani, “The poor penetration of compounds across this barrier is responsible for the attrition of 95% of therapeutics that target regions of the brain.” By allowing for compound penetration across the BBB to be investigated in vitro, experimental data can be generated earlier in the development process at a higher throughput and lower cost when compared with animal studies. The BBB model created by Neuromics allows for the study of a compounds ability to cross the BBB and the effect the compound has on the integrity and structure of the BBB. This model can be used for drug BBB permeability assays, research on BBB physiology, cell-cell interactions, and many other analyses. When combined with the Visikol portfolio of imaging and image analysis tools as well as chemical analysis approaches, Visikol is able to provide a truly differentiated assay for assessing the BBB.
Visikol works with twelve of the top twenty pharmaceutical companies today on their drug discovery and development efforts using advanced imaging, image analysis and 3D cell culture. As CEO Dr. Michael Johnson states, “With this assay, we are looking to expand our in vitro services to answer complex questions and to provide researchers with best-in-class assays and services.” For more information on the Blood Brain Barrier and the work that Visikol does, visit the website and read about it online.