Founded in 2015, Hesperos, Inc was established by Drs. Shuler and Hickman with the goal of accelerating drug discovery by leveraging their Human-on-a-Chip®. Shuler and Hickman have been at the forefront of every major scientific discovery in this realm, from individual organ-on-a-chip constructs to fully functional, interconnected multi-organ systems establishing the first "human-on-a-chip."
Today, we bring together biologists, surface chemists, and engineers, to produce some of the worlds most advanced organs-on-a-chip platforms.
As a company, this is done by offering development of custom models with up to 5-organ or tissue types. From gene expression to electrophysiology, we recreate key components of organs in a fully interconnected, functional system. Chemically patterned microchips enable real-time, non-invasive monitoring of organ activity to detect minute changes to function over time.
With these models, we're able to provide pre-clinical insight into the efficacy and off-target toxicity of single and multi-drug treatments.
Our Mission & Vision
Our mission is to accelerate drug development by providing safety and efficacy data of chemicals & novel therapeutics for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries.
We aim to enable a world where every disease has a treatment, every patient has hope, and animals are no longer used for chemical testing or drug discovery.
Hesperos, Inc. is a global contract research organization (CRO) providing compound safety and efficacy testing services using its Human-on-a-Chip® platform – the most advanced, multi-organ microphysiological systems available today. Services focus on custom build as well as standard systems composed of human cells representing select organs in a functional, interconnected platform providing pre-clinical insight into how the human body will respond to drug compounds.
The low-volume, serum-free, pumpless platform enables evaluation of both parent compounds and their metabolites. This includes evaluation of both single drug treatments and drug-drug combinations allowing PK/PD extrapolation to in vivo outcomes. The flexible platform can be configured depending on the application, such as: reproducing (and treating) specific disease states, evaluating various drug delivery methods (IV, oral, topical), and investigating both the acute and chronic effects of a given compound or combination.
Our platform can target both rare diseases (there are over 7,000 rare diseases but only 400 have active research programs because of a lack of animal models) and diseases with large patient populations. Efficacy data produced by a Hesperos system for rare disease was included with an IND filed with Sanofi in December 2020 that enabled the application for a Phase II clinical trial in December 2020, that began enrolling patients in April 2021 (#NCT04658472). This is the first time data was used from a microphysiological system which led to the authorization of a clinical trial exclusively using efficacy data from an organ-on-a-chip system marking a significant milestone in validating the technology.
With multiple publications in top-tier, peer reviewed journals including: Nature Scientific Reports, Science Translational Medicine, and Advanced Therapeutics, Hesperos’ Human-on-a-Chip is being successfully used by pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and government entities to better understand specific disease states and the human response to therapeutics.
Hesperos and Human-on-a-Chip are trademarks of Hesperos Inc. All other brands may be trademarks of their respective holders.
James "J." Hickman, Ph.D
The driving vision of Dr. James (“J”) Hickman is fundamental to Hesperos’ technological “Human-on-a-Chip” platform.
James Kronauge, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Kronauge has over 30 years’ experience developing novel therapeutics and imaging biomarkers in both academia and industry.
Kenneth Najour, CPA, DBA
Dr. Najour has more than 30 years experience in financial leadership at global, publicly traded firms including: PepsiCo and Mastercard.
Torsten Hoffmann, Ph.D
Dr. Hoffmann has over 25 years of international scientific research management experience, including being the former head of medicinal chemistry at Roche.
Gilberto Villacorta, Ph.D, J.D.
Dr. Villacorta is a intellectual property lawyer who focuses on marketable products, systems and services.
Michael L. Shuler, Ph.D
Dr. Shuler has over 25 years of experience in Body-on-a-Chip research and helped to define the field itself.
Antonio Marra, Jr.
Mr. Marra has over 30 years experience leading and technology companies.
Mr. Stanker is CFO of a publicly traded pharmaceutical firm with over 30 years of financial and regulatory experience.
Kathryn O'Connor Gardner
Ms. Gardner has more than 20 years experience advising funds and publicly traded firms.
Hesperos' CEO Michel Shuler had an observation which would lead to a revolutionary idea, sparking decades of research. Animal models were poor predictors for therapeutics in humans. He envisioned a more predictive model, thinking that recent advances in engineering multi-cellular culture systems could be the key to designing it utilizing PBPK modeling tools. He coined these models "animal-on-a-chip"- a term that would later become organ-on-a-chip (OOC) and now human-on-a-chip.
In parallel, Hesperos’ Chief Scientist, James J Hickman, was developing engineered cell culture systems utilizing serum-free medium and defined surface compositions as well as functional readouts that mimic physiological, mechanical and electrical functions such as cardiac and skeletal muscle contractions and neuronal and cardiac electrical properties. These systems are capable not only of acute measurements but long-term chronic evaluation. Hickman has also utilized stem cells to derive most neuronal cells as well as muscle and cardiomyocytes and worked these systems into multi-organ constructs. He had also developed modeling and simulation tools to predict and understand function in these systems.
Shuler and Hickman attended talks by each other and decided a collaboration to combine the unique attributes of their systems to develop multi-organ systems with functional readouts for acute and chronic applications would be revolutionary for the field. They also adapted their respectful modeling capabilities to enable PBPK modeling of this unique in vitro platform to enable the models to predict in vivo behavior.
The NIH established NCATS to address the long timelines, steep costs and high failure rates associated with the drug development process.
the NIH and FDA partnered to form a collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) focused on advancing development of organ-on-a-chip technology and created the Tissue Chip Program. Shuler and Hickman were funded in the initial grant period of the Initiative by NIH.
Hesperos became the first spin-off company from the NIH/DARPA program and in 2015 the company’s technology was the first to reach the Phase IIb of funding, which is awarded to proven technologies that require additional effort to enable regulatory acceptance.
Hesperos continues to expand the limits of this technology by allowing drug and cosmetic researchers to observe the effects of their compounds on multiple organs within a system for both parent compounds and their metabolites. This patented system allows for a series of organs to interact with each other in a pumpless, serum-free platform, more closely reproducing effects seen in the human body. Hesperos has coined this next step of this field as human-on-a-chip.
Get in Touch
12501 Research Pkwy, Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32826