Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Biotech will use the Organs-on-Chips platform for Emulate in a new research collaboration whose value was not disclosed.
Emulate, which announced the strategic collaboration today, said the alliance was intended to improve Janssen’s drug development efforts by better predicting the potential human response of drug candidates.
Organs-on-Chips will be deployed across three Janssen R&D programs at the stages of drug candidate design and selection, Emulate said.
Lung-on-Chip and Thrombosis-on-Chip will be used for evaluating pulmonary thrombosis, while Liver-on-Chip will be applied toward better predicting liver toxicity, a major cause of drug failures in the clinic. The third research program is undisclosed.
Emulate said it will obtain rights to any discoveries related to the Organs-on-Chips platform that result from the research collaboration. Janssen has the option to extend the collaboration beyond the initial three programs, to include additional organs, disease models, or drug programs.
Emulate and Janssen disclosed the collaboration following achievement by their researchers of the first functional demonstration of Emulate’s Thrombosis-on-Chip platform.
Using Thrombosis-on-Chip, research teams from Emulate and Janssen are evaluating the potential for drug candidates to cause thrombosis, a potential side effect of certain drug classes such as immuno-therapeutics and oncology drugs.
Thrombosis-on-Chip emulated the conditions and physiologic parameters involved in human clot formation, with the aim of providing a mechanistic understanding of the factors implicated in thrombosis. Collaboration researchers demonstrated “robust functionality” of Thrombosis-on-Chip, Emulate said, including:
- Creating a microenvironment to emulate the physiological function of endothelium-platelet interactions, flow of blood, and related mechanical forces involved in platelet aggregation and clot formation;
- Engineering a microfluidic-based system and integrated analytical methods that embody an in vitro approach to assess the dynamic functions of platelet interactions with living endothelial cells;
- Demonstrating molecular and cellular level resolution to evaluate platelet activation and aggregation and interaction of endothelial dysfunction and blood-derived factors in causing thrombosis or bleeding;
- Analyzing platelet-endothelial interactions under pathophysiological conditions relevant for thrombosis research.
“For the first time, Emulate’s Organs-on-Chips have demonstrated the ability to recreate the key drivers of thrombosis within a chip in a way that mirrors what happens in the human body,” Geraldine A. Hamilton, Ph.D., Emulate’s president and CSO, said in a statement.
Thrombosis-on-Chip is an application, Emulate said, of the range of different Organs-on-Chips. Emulate’s platform is intended to provide more predictive data on potential human response to drugs, thus enabling the design and selection of drug candidates with a higher potential of success in human clinical trials.
“We aim to transform the R&D paradigm for drug development to better predict how humans will respond to drug candidates,” Dr. Hamilton added.
Organs-on-Chips contain tiny hollow channels lined by living human cells and tissues cultured under continuous fluid flow and mechanical forces, such as cyclic breathing and peristalsis, designed to recreate the microenvironment experienced by cells within the human body. Each Organ-on-Chip can contain tens of thousands of cells and is approximately the size of a USB memory stick.
Multiple Organs-on-Chips, such as lung, liver, intestine, kidney, skin, eye, and blood-brain-barrier, can be linked together by flowing human blood or nutrient-containing liquid to create a “Human-Body-on-Chips” designed to replicate whole body-level responses.
Emulate’s technology is also intended to support Janssen’s effort to enhance drug discovery and development by applying the “3Rs” paradigm of humane animal use in research—reduction, refinement, and replacement of animal testing.
Based in Cambridge, MA, Emulate is a nearly year-old startup spun out of the tech translation program of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Emulate was formally launched in July 2014 with $12 million in Series A financing led by venture capital firm NanoDimension, with investment by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and private investor Hansjörg Wyss, for whom the institute is named.
Researchers from the Wyss Institute, Emulate, and Janssen plan to publish “comprehensive” data related to Thrombosis-on-Chip research in a peer-reviewed journal, Emulate added.