New Company Formed for Development of new cardiac toxicity assays

San Diego, Calif., November 12, 2011 – Three entrepreneurs have joined to form a new company called TissueNetix, Inc., based in San Diego, CA.  The long-term goal of TissueNetix is to develop high-throughput assays based on human cellular networks.  The first assay that the company is targeting will detect compounds in the drug discovery process that have cardiac toxicity.  The founders are David Giegel, Ph.D., Roberta Gottlieb, M.D., and Lewis Shuster, M.B.A.

The currently accepted assay for cardiac toxicity is only about 50% accurate in predicting whether a particular compound will be toxic in humans.  This assay typically relies on an animal cell line that bears almost no resemblance to human cardiac cells.  The total worldwide cardiac liability testing market is almost $400MM/yr, which is sufficiently large enough to support the introduction of a new technology.

“Having spent 20 years in drug discovery, I’ve seen that there is a significant need for a better cardiac testing assay.  There is a strong push by the National Institutes of Health to use primary human cells for drug testing, rather than animal cells or tumor cells,” said Dr. Giegel, President and CSO of TissueNetix.  “Our goal is to use human cardiac muscle cells that have been derived from stem cells.   We will develop proprietary methods to pattern these cells such that they form networks similar to those found in heart tissue.” 

According to Dr. Roberta Gottlieb, co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Board and co-founder,  "This cell patterning approach is an exciting advance because it results in networked cell behavior that more closely resembles the electrical properties of the human heart, yet is readily adaptable for use in high-throughput screening."

Prior to starting TissueNetix, Dr. Giegel was president of MicroStem, a local start up company that makes products for optimizing stem cell growth.  Prior to MicroStem, he was the Sr. Director of Molecular Sciences at Celgene and before that the Director of the High Throughput Screening Department at Parke-Davis.  Dr. Giegel holds a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Miami University (Ohio) and a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Gottlieb has been conducting NIH-funded cardiovascular research for the past 20 years, and was on faculty at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) from 1992-2006, when she accepted a position as the first Director of the Donald P. Shiley BioScience Center at SDSU. 

The work in her lab has led to the discovery of the cardioprotective agents and the elucidation of their novel mechanism of action.  Her expertise in cardioprotection and autophagy is recognized on a national and international level.  She is currently operating 3 NIH R01 grants. She also is an entrepreneur, having started a biotechnology company called Radical Therapeutics, whose goal was to develop drugs to prevent or treat the damage to the heart that is caused by a myocardial infarction.

Mr. Shuster is the founder of Shuster Capital, a strategic and operating advisor to and angel investor in life science companies, and has served as its chief executive officer since. From June 2003 to November 2007, Mr. Shuster served as chief executive officer of Kemia, Inc., a drug discovery and development company.

From February 2000 to December 2001, Mr. Shuster held various operating executive positions at Invitrogen Corporation, a biotechnology company that merged with Applied Biosystems Inc. and became Life Technologies Corporation. Between 1994 and 1999, Mr. Shuster served as chief financial officer and executive vice president corporate development of Pharmacopeia, Inc., a drug discovery product and service company, and as president and chief operating officer of Pharmacopeia Labs, a division of Pharmacopeia, Inc.

Mr. Shuster joined Human Genome Sciences, Inc. as its first employee in 1992 and served as its executive vice president, operations and finance until 1994. Mr. Shuster currently serves as member of the board of directors of Complete Genomics, Inc., a life science company that has developed and commercialized a DNA sequencing platform, and, from September 2009 to February 2010, served as a director of Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company. Mr. Shuster received a B.A. in Economics from Swarthmore College and an M.B.A. from Stanford University.

About TissueNetix, Inc.

TissueNetix is dedicated to developing novel assays that make use of human cells to help eliminate toxic compounds during the drug discovery process.  We are developing a novel microplate format of beating, conducting human cardiomyocytes for the most accurate and efficient drug cardiotoxicity screening.  TissueNetix applies cell engineering to address unmet needs in the drug discovery process, and plans to develop a portfolio of novel tools for preclinical and diagnostic applications.

CONTACT:  David Giegel, Ph.D.
President & Founder, TissueNetix, Inc
Tel:  (858) 204-9243                                                                                    November 12, 2011
E-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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