Omics is helping unleash the utility of organ on a chip technology

Draper’s PREDICT-96 organ-on-a-chip system

Organ-on-a-chip technology, which simulates the function of an organ or an organ system, has steadily evolved over the past decade. 

The promise of the technology has evolved as well, said Timothy Petrie, head of strategy and business development, pharmaceutical R&D technologies at Draper (Cambridge, Mass). 

In the beginning, it seemed like the central appeal of organ-on-a-chip technology was to improve the efficiency of drug development. Some 90% of drug candidates fail during clinical development. Organ-on-a-chip technology promises to help drug developers more accurately how a drug will perform in humans. 

“With the advent of omics and Big Data applied to secretion and gene expression in proteins at a cellular level, you get a ton more information out of tissue,” Petrie said. That results in new possibilities for organ-on-a-chi…

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Drug discovery evolves: Jump-starting the transition from animal models to human preclinical models

Image courtesy of AM Biotech

Animal models, long the basis of academic research and preclinical drug discovery, continue to play an important role in advancing our understanding of basic pharmacology and bringing critical therapies to those in need. However, animal models have some natural drawbacks (e.g., not being humans) that hamper their ability to fully predict the interaction of new chemical entities with human physiology. Nonetheless, animal models remain the lynchpin of preclinical research the world over. Given the long-standing paucity of suitable human-based models to replace them, this should come as no surprise. Indeed, while both primary and immortalized human cells have long been available for in vitro research using standard tissue culture techniques, the primarily 2D nature of such in vitro studies is not sufficient to replicate human tissue’s complex structure and function.

These fundamenta…

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Why Emulate launched a colon intestine chip

Colon chip from Emulate

Emulate has debuted what it terms a “colon intestine chip” targeted at pharma and biotech companies, academics and other researchers. The company believes the system will accelerate the identification of drug candidates to treat inflammatory damage in the colon.

The technology could be a boon for understanding inflammatory bowel disease, which approximately 1.6 million people in the U.S. About 70,000 cases of the disease are diagnosed annually, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Many of those cases don’t respond to therapy, according to Lorna Ewart, executive vice president of science.

Emulate’s new intestine model combines human colonic organoids and supportive colonic endothelial cells to create an environment that simulates peristalsis.

In the following interview, Ewart describes potential applications of the new colon platform, touche…

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Organ-chips could streamline drug development, but hurdles remain

Emulate Bio’s CHIP-S1

While organ-on-a-chip technology has evolved tremendously over the past 15 years, adoption of the technology remains at an early stage. But as organ-chip technology advances and the R&D costs for pharma companies continue to hover near unsustainable levels, organ-on-a-chip technology has the promise to address what cell biologist and bioengineer Donald Ingber called the “broken” drug-development model. 

One of the key challenges is the drug industry’s reliance on animal studies in preclinical research, Ingber said in an Emulate Bio virtual event. “There are ethical issues,” said Ingber, a member of the company’s board of directors. “But the real problem is that the results of these animal preclinical models often don’t predict clinical responses,” he added. 

Get the full story from our sister site, Drug Discovery & Development. 

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Organ-chips could streamline drug development, but hurdles remain

Emulate Bio’s CHIP-S1

While organ-on-a-chip technology has evolved tremendously over the past 15 years, adoption of the technology remains at an early stage. But as organ-chip technology advances and the R&D costs for pharma companies continue to hover near unsustainable levels, organ-on-a-chip technology has the promise to address what cell biologist and bioengineer Donald Ingber called the “broken” drug-development model. 

One of the key challenges is the drug industry’s reliance on animal studies in preclinical research, Ingber said in an Emulate Bio virtual event. “There are ethical issues,” said Ingber, a member of the company’s board of directors. “But the real problem is that the results of these animal preclinical models often don’t predict clinical responses,” he added. 

Complicating matters further is the rise of biologics, which make up a sizable portion of the drug-development pi…

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As organs-on-chips advance, their potential for drug discovery grows

Cortical neuron staining in the Emulate Brain-Chip. Image courtesy of Emulate Inc.

Engineered microchips with living human cells have the potential to accelerate drug development and replace animal testing, said Dr. Donald Ingber, the founding director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

The organ-on-a-chip technology could also enable the industry to rethink its business model, Ingber said in a webinar from the Boston-based startup Emulate. While critics routinely criticize the pharmaceutical industry for price gouging, the blockbuster business model’s demise has threatened many firms’ profitability in the sector. R&D costs are another pressure. “It costs over $3 billion to go from the bench to the clinic at this point,” said Dr. Donald Ingber, the founding director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

An…

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