ORLANDO, Fla. — Hesperos Inc., utilizing technology developed by UCF and Cornell University scientists to enable a more accurate way to test pharmaceuticals without using animal subjects, has been awarded a major international prize.
This innovative technology, known as Body-on-a-Chip or Human-on-a-Chip, was recently awarded the 2015 Lush Prize for Science over 11 finalists from Japan, Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S.
Lush, the international cosmetics manufacturer with shops in 49 countries, has awarded the Lush Prize since 2012 in five categories. The 2015 Lush Science award includes a share of $690,000 in prize money.
UCF researcher Dr. James J. Hickman, Professor of Chemistry, Biomolecular Science and Electrical Engineering at the UCF NanoScience Technology Center, partnered with Dr. Michael Shuler at Cornell University to develop functional Body-on-a-Chip systems that are free of animal cells and animal sera.
Hickman and Shuler are utilizing Hesperos, a startup biotech research and development company, to commercialize the technology. Dr. Shuler is President and CEO and Dr. Hickman is Chief Scientist at Hesperos.
Body-on-a-Chip systems work with tissues derived from human cell sources to simulate human metabolism and function, including toxic side effects as well as efficacy from pharmaceutical drug candidates.
“Body-on-a-Chip systems can play a significant role in determining the efficacy and toxicity of new pharmaceuticals without the use of animals,” Dr. Shuler explained.
Dr. Hickman and Shuler’s team is researching ways to improve pharmaceutical testing. Aside from the ethical considerations of using live animal subjects to test potentially life-saving drugs, animal testing is woefully inaccurate.
“For every 50 drugs that are determined to be safe for animals, only one proves safe and efficacious in humans,” Dr. Hickman said.
Hesperos’s goal is to further develop this technology to replace animal testing in the pre-clinical development of drugs and in the chemical and cosmetics industry as well as provide the ultimate systems for precision medicine applications.
Dr. Hickman said Hesperos will use its share of the prize money to further its research and development efforts.
Hesperos, Inc. is a client company of the UCF Business Incubation Program at Central Florida Research Park in east Orange County. Hesperos is a service-based company that also offers custom designed systems for clients. Visit www.Hesperosinc.com .
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About the UCF Business Incubation Program
The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth / impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has helped hundreds of local startup companies reach their potential faster by providing vital business development resources.
With seven facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Apopka, Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs. Participating companies sustain more than 3,600 local jobs and have had a total impact of $1.51 Billion on regional sales and $2.48 Billion on regional economic output. During the last fiscal year, the program has returned $7.95 for every $1.00 invested in the program. For more information, visit www.incubator.ucf.edu.