Anthony Bahinski Ph.D. Advanced Technology Team Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University

This Roundtable Brings Together Experts to Discuss the Development and Potential Utility of Human “Organs-on-Chips”

Development of safe and effective drugs is currently hampered by the poor predictive power of existing preclinical animal models that often lead to failure of drug compounds late in their development. This roundtable brings together experts in the field of microphysiological systems, stem cell biology, as well as governmental and regulatory thought leaders to discuss the development and potential utility of human “organs-on-chips” as preclinical models for human efficacy and safety. These microfluidic devices contain living human cells and are capable of recapitulating organ-level functions. Large efforts in the United States (DARPA, NCATS, FDA, DTRA) and Europe (hDMT) highlight the promise and potential of these systems to provide better translational preclinical models for efficacy and safety evaluation of drugs, biologics, and nanotherapeutics.

Dr. Bahinski: Let's start with Dan Huh and Reyk Horland. Dan, could you provide a brief description of organs-on-chips and an overview of some that you are developing?

Dr. Huh: Sure. So, organs-on-chips are basically microfabricated devices designed for culturing human cells in a physiological environment. They are microengineered systems that provide new exciting opportunities to mimic the most salient structure, dynamic microenvironment, and complex physiological function of the basic units of living human organs.

In many cases, organs-on-chips are made of transparent polymeric materials like polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a silicon elastomer, and consist of three-dimensional microfluidic channels that often contain more than one compartment to enable coculture of multiple cell types. As a first step to form functional living tissues, these microchannels are coated with extracellular matrix proteins and then seeded with human cells. Once cell attachment is established, the channels are perfused with culture medium to provide cells with nutrients, oxygen, and other soluble factors critical for cell growth and differentiation.

To read the rest of this round table discussion click here.

Applied In Vitro Toxicology, published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., is a new peer-reviewed journal providing the latest research on the application of alternative in vitro testing methods for predicting adverse effects in the pharmaceutical, chemical, and personal care industries. The above article was first published in the December 2015 issue of Applied In Vitro Toxicology with the title “The Promise and Potential of “Organs-on-Chips” as Preclinical Models”. The views expressed here are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of Applied In Vitro Toxicology, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, or their affiliates. No endorsement of any entity or technology is implied.


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