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Bridging the Gap: Organ on a Chip and the Future of Drug Discovery

Drug development is an arduous process, from identification to formulation, development, and clinical trial before a therapeutic drug gets approval, it undergoes multiple clinical trials to ensure its safety and efficacy. The traditional drug discovery model fails to provide quick results, and hundreds of drug discoveries never enter the market. The conventional approach requires animal or human models to understand the reaction of the drug—it takes time, and in some cases, results are not clear. Furthermore, genetic variations in disease-causing bacteria and humans may impact the reaction of drugs, making it difficult for the researchers to design drug considering these factors.

Discovery of a potential drug is a complex and long process. The daunting process and numerous clinical trials raise the gap between drug discovery and commercialization. Organ-on-a-chip technology emerges as an innovative approach to speed up the drug discovery process. It is a tech-driven cell culture model that resembles human physiology and provides data about drug pharmacokinetics accurately bridging the gap between drug development and approval for commercialization. The organ on-chip has become the future of drug designing, allowing researchers to invest time in finding innovative solutions to combat diseases.

Organ on a Chip: The Future of Drug Discovery

Organ-on-a-chip technology, also known as tissue chips, contains natural or engineered tissues derived from human organs such as the liver, heart, lungs, and more. The extracted tissue is grown in the miniaturized fluid channel, which is molded into silicon, glass, and polymer. Organ on a chip effectively mimics human physiology—helping pharmaceutical players to understand the drugs and their reactions in real time. The aim of designing an organ on a chip is to create a cellular micro-environment for the study of drug efficacy. It significantly helps to reduce the time of research and bridges the gap between commercialization and clinical trial of drugs.

How Does Organ On A Chip Technology Work?

Organ on a chip combines microfluidics and cell culture to imitate the psychology of the human body organs and disease states such as gaseous exchange in the lungs, peristalsis in the intestines, and flow of blood through the vasculature. The size of the devices is small and flexible, containing microfluidic channels on the upper and lower sides of tissues. These microfluidic channels are separated by a porous membrane that creates an edge for cell-to-cell communication.

It is cultured within a microfluidics platform that automates the cyclic mechanical strain and fluid flow to maintain physiological conditions inside the chip’s microenvironment. The system works as a native organ and helps researchers to study drug reactions in real time with the help of high-content microscopy imaging and other effluent sampling procedures. Moreover, they can also perform analytical tests such as cytotoxicity assays and omics-based analysis to determine the pathways of disease.

What are the Applications of Organ A Chip Technology in Drug Discovery?

Organ-on-a-chip technology sets the stage for the research of drug development. Emulate is the forefront industrial leader that designed organ-on-a-chip technologies that help to determine the convertibility of the drug compounds during clinical trials. As of now, this organ-on-a-chip company emphasizes designing the human liver on a chip. The primary functioning cells of the liver, known as hepatocytes, were initially evaluated for fundamental traits such as proper appearance and expression of hepatocyte-specific markers. Then, they checked the amount of albumin in the chip’s effluent and monitored the liver cells to make sure they kept making the liver protein throughout the experiment.

▪         Study of Immunology and Gene Therapy

Pharmaceutical leaders and academic research players use organ-on-a-chip to study drug efficacy in gene therapy, the immunological response generated by cells against specific drugs, toxicology, and even cancer research. The model enables scientists and researchers to develop cell culture designs that closely resemble human gene expression. It helps to determine disease mechanisms and human physiology. In pharmaceutical sectors, it is used to determine the toxicity, efficacy, and effects on the drug candidate during clinical trials—helping organ-on-a-chip companies to improve drug quality.

▪         Helps In the Development of Personalized Medicine

Targeted or personalized medicine is in great demand for the treatment of chronic diseases. The organ-on-chip opens channels for academic research, and scientists can use the model for the development of personalized medicinal drugs. The scientist can utilize this technology to create an in-vitro model for the drug discovery and determine the potency of drug. Organ-on-chip is also used to determine the safety of drugs for patient use and shorten the timeline between clinical trials and market supply.

▪         Organ-on-a-Chip Is Used to Study Lung Inflammation

Organ-on-a-chip technology also helps to study lung inflammation, specifically in the alveolar region. The alveoli are elastic sacs inside the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. Patients with severe COVID-19 infection face acute respiratory distress syndrome, which damages the alveolar sac.

Benefits of Organ on a Chip Technology

Organ on chip serves as a tissue-specific dynamic cell culture system that allows real-time analysis of drug effects on the human body using this model. Other significances of using organ-on-a-chip technology are as follows:

▪         Organ-on-chip technology contains human tissues that mimic the human relevance model to study drug development.

▪         It creates a microenvironment for real-time data analysis useful for drug discovery.

▪         Organ-on-chip technology is comparatively less expensive than in-vivo culture for drug development.

▪         Reduces dependency on human volunteers for drug development clinical trials.

Organ on a Chip Market: Future Perspectives and Market Growth

Organ on a chip is a portable and easy-to-use cell culture model. Pharmaceutical players are adopting it at the global level for drug discovery. The system ensures a controlled microenvironment useful for the preclinical studies of the drug potency and efficacy. Several pharmaceutical players are showing active participation in the use of organ-on-a-chip technology for clinical trials. Driven by these factors, the global organ-on-a-chip market has been anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 21%, according to Roots Analysis. Some of the recent development that has taken place in the organ-on-a-chip market includes:

▪         In June 2023, MatTek Life Sciences announced its strategic partnership with AIM Biotech. The partnership allows MatTek to sell their products using AIM Biotech Portfolio.

▪         In June 2023, Emulate Launched Emulate Chip-A1™ to spread its application in the cosmetic market and cancer study.

Concluding Remarks

Organ-on-a-chip is a verified preclinical model that provides better insight into human physiology and disease pathways. Pharmaceutical players are leveraging this model to overcome the issues they face during traditional preclinical models. With advances in organ-on-chip technology, scientists can make more cell culture models to study the effect of the drugs on the specific organs of the body—resulting in the development of precision medicine with a personalized approach.

About Roots Analysis

Roots Analysis is a global leader in the pharma/biotech market research. Having worked with over 750 clients worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies, start-ups, academia, venture capitalists, and strategic investors for more than a decade, we offer a highly analytical / data-driven perspective to a network of over 450,000 senior industry stakeholders looking for credible market insights. All reports provided by us are structured in a way that enables the reader to develop a thorough perspective on the given subject. Apart from writing reports on identified areas, we provide bespoke research/consulting services dedicated to serving our clients in the best possible way.

Knowproz is part of Future plc, an international media group and leading digital publisher.

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