DEFINITION, APPLICATIONS & CHALLENGES

Organ-on-Chip

“An Organ-on-Chip (OoC) is a fit for purpose fabricated microfluidic-based device, containing living engineered organ substructures in a controlled micro- or nanoenvironment, that recapitulate one or more aspects of the dynamics, functionality and (patho)physiological response of an organ in vivo, in real-time monitoring mode.”

Consensual working definition established by the European ORCHID vision group on 23 May 2018 in Stuttgart.

Link to the OoC timeline

OoC can be classified into 2 distinct types

  • Single-organ systems: emulating key functions of single tissues or organs,
  • Multi-organ systems: combining multiple organ/OoC to reproduce the systemic interactions that occur in vivo.
Click here to access to the flyer "OoC at a glance!"
Link to library

Organ-on-Chip can reduce, refine and replace animal studies.

Example of multi-organ systems adapted from ©TissUse

Main applications

Applications in preclinical pharmacology and toxicology are the early, most visible drivers of the OoCs area. The Pharmaceutical Industry is supporting the development of OoCs to improve safety and efficacy of drugs in development, and they are paving the way for personalised medicine approaches by promoting the use of patient-specific cells. OoCs are also used in academia to model diseases for a better understanding of their mechanism and etiology. Furthermore, OoCs show a huge potential in the near future for cosmetics, chemical and food industries to test toxicological hazard and assess the risk of substances, especially because of their highly stringent regulatory requirements.

Fundamental & clinical research

  • Study of human organs physiology & disease in a dynamic context
  • Biomarker and target identification
  • Personalized medicine (use of patient-specific cells)
  • Emulation of host-microbiome interaction

Pharmaceutical area

  • Drug development process: safety assessment, efficacy testing
  • ADME pathways
  • Ex-vivo clinical trials
  • Drug repurposing

Other industries

  • Test toxicological hazards
  • Assess the risk of substances (cosmetics, chemicals, agro-food and consumer products)

Expected benefits

Fundamental & clinical research

  • Improve knowledge of cellular and molecular mechanisms of action
  • Bring high value to industrial transfer

Pharmaceutical area

  • More rapid, accurate, cost-effective and clinically relevant testing of drugs
  • More adapted treatments to genetic diversity, ethnicity, sex or age
  • Cost-reduction of clinical trials

Other industries

  • Alternative models to face the stringent regulatory requirement
  • Replace animal testing, which is banned in Europe for cosmetic products since 2013
Key challenges

The technological challenges mainly concern the identification of new structural materials; the sourcing and co-culturing of physiologically relevant cells for all tissues and organs and the implementation of integrated physical and/or chemicals sensors. An easy-to-use technology would deliver robust and reproducible results suitable for translation across different laboratories as well as for industrial and regulatory standardization.

To build relevant models which mimic human physiology as far as possible

Need for the engagement of all key players and stakeholders in continuous dialogue, and an investment of funding. Concerted dissemination and raise of awareness about OoC’s working principles and role in both the scientific community and the public is required in order to avoid overpromises and expectations that might otherwise cloud or exceed the promising potential of the technology.

ORCHID Report

Before 2010

Before Organ-on-Chip

Before 2010
  • Microphysiological systems (MPS)
  • Improved long-term cellular viability with microfluidics
  • See also Pioneers in the microfluidic cell culture field: Groups of Mike Shuler, Linda Griffith, Roger Kamm, Dave Beebe, Eric LeClerc/Teruo Fujii, Danny van Noort
Read "Lee P.J. et al, 2007"  
2010

Birth of Organ-on-Chip

2010
  • Wyss Institute
  • Airway-on-a-chip device
Read "Huh D. et al, 2010"
2010

Establishment of European OoC Companies

2010
  • OoC: a potential to transform the drug discovery industry
  • Co-culture of two cell types in a common medium
  • Multi-organ chip platform
Read "Zhang B. et al, 2018 (Review)"
2012

US Human on a chip initiative

2012
  • NIH and DARPA fund research grant in OoC
  • FDA: partner in this 2012 Tissue Chip program
Learn more about NIH
2014

First US OoC Start-up

2014
  • Emulate: spin-off from the Wyss Institute
  • OoC put on the market
  • Drug testing applications
Learn more about Wyss Institute
2014

Pharmas fund OoC in Europe

2014
  • OoC technology combined with high throughput screening of primary human cells.
  • OoC predict renal toxicity during pre-clinical development.
Link to the press release Link to the press release
2015

hDMT consortium

2015
  • Precompetitive, non-profit technological R&D institute
  • Valorizes Organ-on-Chip models
  • Promotes open knowledge exchange and collaborations in OoC
Read the hDMT brochure on OoC
2015

Pharmas involved in OoC

2016

Top 10 of emerging technologies

2017

FDA involved in OoC for Food Safety

2017
  • FDA signs collaborative agreement with Emulate, Inc
  • OoC as Toxicology Testing Platform (liver-on-a-chip)
  • OoC: a tool to understand how products (foods, dietary supplements and cosmetics) affect human health and safety
Link to press release
2017

First European ORCHID initiative

2017
  • Define the European Organ-on-Chip roadmap
  • Strengthen the Organ-on-Chip community in Europe
Learn more about ORCHID
2018

European Society in OoC

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