Currently, animals like rats and mice are used to test the safety and efficacy of new drugs.
This process has a failure rate of more than 99 per cent for human clinical trials testing new drugs for neurological diseases, and also creates significant animal rights issues.
At the end of last year, the US government signed into law the FDA Modernisation Act, which removed a requirement to test new drugs on animals, allowing developers to use human-relevant methods in the place of this.
This created significant opportunities for biotech companies, and paved the way for an Australian offering to be used across the world.
Melbourne-based healthtech firm Tessara’s RealBrain platform offers the next generation in drug screening for neurological diseases by creating close copies of human brain physiology to help discover better neurological drugs.
The company was co-founded by Dr Christos Papadimitriou, a researcher into regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and Alzheimer’s diseases, and Christopher Boyer, who has 20 years of international experience in biotech, in 2018.
It has partnered with The Florey, Johns Hopkins University, Monash University and CSIRO.
The tool utilises the company’s proprietary 3D micro-tissue platform, combining all the necessary requirements for drug discovery. This features human cells in a 3D architecture with functional neural networks, meaning it can more accurately predict the response of human brain tissue to new drugs.
This paves the way for quicker identification of better new drugs, de-risks this process and takes away the need to experiment on animals.
Tessara is now commercialising the RealBrain platform, which creates advanced 3D in-vitro models that more closely represent human neural physiology. The company is aiming to revolutionise brain research and the development of neurological therapies, combining the latest innovations in biomaterials, tissue engineering and artificial intelligence.
The company plans to licence its technology to universities, pharmaceutical companies and in contracts with research organisations, opening up an addressable market of $US2 billion.
Tessara says it is guided by a simple but crucial mission: to reach a future in which we can protect, restore and rebuild the brain.
Tessara obtained a seed funding round in 2019, then raised $2.7 million in May 2020 and a further $3.2 million between 2021 and 2022. It is now preparing for a commercial launch of its technology.
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