The small size, cost-effectiveness, precise control over the microenvironment, modularity — this is what drew pharmaceutical researchers to organ on a chips. Microfluidics has enabled Organ on a chips to boost the drug development pipeline in at least two ways: reducing the drug failure rate and personalized medicine.
There are two major reasons why a new drug might fail. The new drug might pass the test on the cells grown in the lab but fail when tested on living organisms or pass the animal test and fail in human tests. Organ on a chips provide a means to take advantage of the benefits of both and create a complex microenvironment for drug testing which is crucial in assessing the compounds’ functionality at early stages. Additionally, the organ on a chips can be integrated with patient-specific cell types to investigate and monitor the treatment on cells with similar genetic code as the patient.
2D testing of the new drugs and in-vitro analysis of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics are common practices before taking the drug to the next steps including preclinical testing. 2D culture dishes are strong tools for high-throughput early-stage assays while animal models provide more complex physiological environments. However, the organs in our body are of a 3D nature and the complex behavior of cells cannot be adequately modeled in 2D cultures such as 96-well plates. Also, the response of the animal models to the new compound does not necessarily guarantee similar results in the human body. The cost of failures and the development of a new drug can be as high as $2-3 billion dollars, not to mention the loss of many animal lives due to the trial and error nature of the process. Therefore, more advanced technologies are required to facilitate high-throughput assays in biologically relevant environments.
The high costs of drug development call out for more advanced technologies. More accurate models for testing potential candidate drugs can reduce the associated costs. Organ on a chips are microenvironments created using microfluidic technology that are lined with human cells and are capable of mimicking the natural environment of the associated organs. Organ-on-a-chips enable researchers to create a condition that better mimics the pathophysiological conditions of the human body. The spatial structure of the cells along with a controlled flow of air, blood, and nutrients creates a condition similar to the body. The candidate drug could be mixed with the circulating flow to expose the cell culture to the treatment and the transparent nature of the microfluidic chips allows for real-time imaging of the cells to determine the response to the administered drug. Multiple organs can also be connected to each other to observe how the compound affects organs other than the target organ. Also, the drugs that work on individuals do not necessarily work on a population. Organ-on-a-chips can be employed by culturing primary cells from donors (or by converting the IPSCs to the desired cells) and testing the efficacy of the drug for a population.
These Microfluidic devices can save millions of dollars by replacing the trial and error process with a more efficient, and reliable method. Examples of organ-on-a-chips fabricated include but are not limited to the gut on a chip, liver on a chip, lung on a chip, muscle on a chip, intestine on a chip, multiple organs on a chip, etc. uFluidix has years of experience in custom design and fabrication of organ-on-a-chips. Contact us today to purchase your organ on a chip device fabricated in a short time and for a reasonable price.
Personalized medicine is aimed at finding the best drug and the most suitable dosage for individual patients. Traditional methods are either incapable or laborious and time-consuming, which makes them inappropriate for achieving this aim. However, the physical and chemical aspects of each individual’s condition can be mimicked in organ on a chips using samples from the patient. The cells can be obtained by employing the patient’s primary cells or reverting the cells back to IPSCs and then transforming them to the desired cell type that can be cultured on the microfluidic device and be exposed to various dosages of the drug. The drug can be mixed with the circulating fluid to expose the cells to the drugs in manners similar to the actual microenvironment of the cells in the body. Other essential factors associated with the desired tissue such as oxygen level, actuation, and flow dynamics can be adjusted based on the health data to engineer biological, mechanical, and chemical microenvironment surrounding the cells.
There are questions that should be addressed before moving the organ on a chips to the mainstream applications. Learn more about these aspects of organ on a chips.