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An article from Anna MacDonald for Technology Networks - Limitations of current planar, static cell culture systems or animal models result in the high drug failure rates seen in clinical trials, a limitation that can cost pharmaceutical companies billions of dollars. In addition, many human diseases are still unable to be accurately modelled in vitro, limiting understanding and therapy development. These issues highlight the urgent need for more physiologically relevant models of human organs, and have fuelled the development of organs-on-chips.

As Geraldine Hamilton describes, organs-on-chips are functional microchips housing living cells, built using techniques from the computer chip manufacturing industry, which can mimic processes in the body such as peristalsis, breathing, and infection.

Currently a niche market of no more than $7.5M in 2016, the organ-on-a-chip field is estimated to see rapid growth reaching $60-$117M by 2022 (2017 edition - Yole Développement). Perhaps the most promising application of these models is the role they could play in drug discovery and development.

To enable the development of this area, NCATS’ Tissue Chip for Drug Screening Initiative  launched in 2012 and aims to improve the drug discovery process by developing human tissue chips that provide more accurate representations of human organs. The hope is that these models will lead to more accurate detection of toxicity or efficacy problems and reduce the amount of drugs failing in human clinical trials... Full article



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