The pharmaceutical industry approximately incurs a loss of about $1.5 to 2 billion in face of the failure of new drug discoveries. The newly discovered molecules screened in labs on human cell cultures and lab animals fail to produce similar results in human beings consequentially leading to adverse effects and failure of the molecule to enter the market.
How the monitoring System works
In an attempt to fix the issue and derive more accurate tools for the drug discovery process, scientists have engineered a new device called “body-on-a-chip”. These micro-sized organs are known as organoids and are connected together on a single microfluidic platform to monitor their function. The organoids are placed in sealed tubes with nutrient filled liquid circulating through the system which enables the study of interconnected biochemical and physiological responses across organs. A monitored system with real-time camera keeps a close watch once the potential drug therapies are introduced into the system.
The microfluidic platform connects accurately replicated tissues from up to 10 organs for weeks at a single instance enabling the study of the effect of the drug on different parts of the body. Several versions of the chip linking liver, lung, gut, endometrium, brain, heart, pancreas, kidney, skin, and skeletal muscle can be created.
The tissues are obtained directly from the patients and not from cell lines which add to the authenticity of the results. The tissues are capable of performing the most important functions of the organ to which they belong.
Advantages of organoids
- It is capable of replicating an idealistic molecular and cellular environment by underlying human physiological functions. This helps to mimic human-specific disease states as well as identify new therapeutic targets in vitro.
- Its therapeutically relevant interfaces can be studied with ease along with the prediction of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic responses leading to more reliable drug discoveries.
- It is capable of evaluating antibody drugs and immunotherapies by constantly interacting with the human immune system.
- Finally, this system can study the effect of living microbiomes providing a holistic result covering multiple diseases and health condition.
The ‘body on a chip’ system is expected to create a major breakthrough in the drug discovery process. There have been instances of drugs being tested on single organs like liver or heart. The results have individually not amounted to any toxicity but when the body as a whole was considered several other organ systems were found to be affected. Hence this system that mimics multi-organ response could save lives as well as millions of dollars.
– Pavan Mudholkar,
Sr Research Analyst,