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Mimetas is a biotech company based in Leiden (NL) offering high-throughput human tissue and disease models in OrganoPlates®. Mimetas is a pioneer in organ on a chip biology and already works with the majority of the top pharmaceutical companies and top scientists. The organs-on-chips technology has the potential to become a multi-billion dollar market in the mid- to long-term future, given the billions of dollars they could help the industry to save every year. Yole Développement’s analysts detail in a recent report Organs on Chips, different scenarios (realistic and optimistic) in which the market could grow at a compound annual growth rate from 2017-2022 of 38-57% to reach $60M-$117M in 2022. And this is only a first step. In this context, Yole Développement analysts have interviewed Mimetas co-founder and managing director, Dr Paul Vulto.

Yole Développement (YD): Can you please explain the history behind the creation of Mimetas and how your company is now structured?

Paul Vulto: MIMETAS was founded in 2013 and has grown to over 50 employees in 2017. We have locations in the Netherlands, Maryland and Tokyo. MIMETAS works with nearly all top-20 pharmaceutical companies and is market leader by far in terms of chips sold and models transferred.

YD: Could you describe the technical features of the OrganoPlates® and how theses specifications answer a need in the drug development process for pharmaceutical companies?

PV: MIMETAS tissue models are always 3D extracellular matrix supported. We further facilitate perfusion flow, growth of tubes and vessels and can build co-culture models, without any need for artificial membranes. This leads to a level of biology that was unprecedented to date. The stunning aspect is that this is all possible without needing to compromise to ease-of-use, throughput or peripheral equipment. The OrganoPlate® is an extremely elegant platform that can be used by any end-user, while at the same time enabling the 3D biological tissue models of the 21st century. A key feature underneath this is the PhaseGuide technology, that allows layering of extracellular matrix gels such as collagen or matrigel, in organized lanes. Instead of using plastic membranes to create a layered profile, we use surface tension techniques.

The MIMETAS OrganoPlate

The MIMETAS OrganoPlate® (Courtesy of MIMETAS)

YD: What are the applications targeted by the OrganoPlates® and the biological models available and under development?

PV: The OrganoPlate® platform is a generic cell culture platform, since all tissues are 3D and build-up from multiple cell types in a stratified manner. However, MIMETAS has worked intensively with her customers to advance a selected number of models that are logically most advanced to date: Kidney models, gut models, vascular models, CNS models (brain), liver as well as oncology models.

YD: In terms of the manufacturing of the OrganoPlates®, could you give us more information on the materials and why you choose these materials?

PV: In order to assure maximum compatibility with standard microscopes and robot handling, we have chosen to stick with the microtiter plate format. The microfluidics is made up of 170 micrometer thin glass in order to assure highest levels of microscopy. MIMETAS OrganoPlates® are thus the platform of choice for any high-content imaging application.

YD: Mimetas is collaborating with top pharmaceutical companies. What is the business models? A mix between service revenues and direct sales?

PV: MIMETAS works intensively with her customers to push the 3D co-culture models to a next level. This comprises choice of cell sources, ECM, flow rates, growth media, cell density etc. A good example of such a collaboration was recently published in Nature Communications, in which we developed a high throughput gut permeability assay together with Roche that is currently used independently at Roche. Each pharma customer has its own specific questions and demands, and the MIMETAS team works with them to set up the model and assay according to their needs. Once finalized we transfer the model to the customer, who is then able to run and further optimize the assays by themselves. In the end, everything in the MIMETAS organization is focused on sales of OrganoPlates® and setting a new standard in 3D cell culture.

MimetasInterview DrugdevelopemntMilestones YoleDeveloppementOKOK

YD: How are the regulatory agencies involved in organs-on-chips development and validation? Do you think more can be done to accelerate the adoption?

PV: We have intensive interaction with regulatory bodies in Europe and the United States. They are highly interested in our type of technologies and see the need to replace sub-optimal animal models with well-validated 3D human tissue models. The route to convince these bodies is by providing the data of such validation studies. Proper validation can only be done in collaboration with the end-user: the pharmaceutical industry. This is exactly what we’re doing.

YD: A lot has been done today to improve the models, what other growth areas should organs on chips developers focus on? Such as flow management, embedded sensors, multiple organs combination…

PV: What is published on the OrganoPlate® to date is only the tip of the ice-berg. Our engineers have developed an eco-system around the platform that ticks all boxes of conventional assays. In addition, we haven’t finished by far exploring the flexibility of the platform in terms of model building. Indeed, multi-organ combinations are an interesting path forward, but not highest on our priority list.

YD: Which are the competing technologies to organs on chips?

PV: We are currently head-on competing with the classical Transwell system: We’re easier to use, provide far superior imaging quality, add the 3D and flow aspects to our models and… are fully devoid of artificial membranes. We see no reason why scientist would still be using a Transwell system in the future.

YD: There has been a lot of discussion on the future of connecting multiple organs-on-chips to create a body on a chip. What are your thoughts on body on a chip?

PV: I think it is an intriguing concept and the possibilities are endless. However, we shouldn’t be naive about this. Every good microfluidic engineer can connect a few culture chambers. The real challenge is to get the datapoints out that actually make any sense. This means that each individual organ model should be fully optimized and validated for its purpose. Subsequently the interconnected organ model conditions should be optimized and validated in the same manner. This is a level of exponential complexity, that we feel comes too early for commercial applications. 

YD: What are the biggest challenges you feel organs-on-chips developers will be facing?

PV: The biggest challenge that MIMETAS faces today is to convince end-users that the old-fashioned 2D models are simply not good enough, while at the same time showing them that perfused 3D cell culture isn’t necessarily more complex to do. So far we have convinced our customers one-by-one and we hope that word will spread soon, so that in the end 3D perfused tissue culture becomes the standard all throughout the cell biology field. 

Paul Vulto MimetasDr. Paul Vulto, Managing Director; Paul is a life science executive and entrepreneur, who held positions in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Japan. Paul is co-founder and Managing Director of the company MIMETAS that develops organ and tissue models on-a-chip for drug testing and therapy selection. MIMETAS has grown to over 50 employees in three years’ time and works with the majority of large pharmaceutical companies. Paul holds a cum Laude Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a cum Laude PhD degree in Microsystems Engineering.

MIMETAS provides human tissue models for 21st century therapeutics. Her core-product, the OrganoPlate, allows perfused 3D cell culture, membrane free co-culture and culture of tubules and vessels. Each OrganoPlate comprises 40 to 96 tissues and is fully compatible with standard laboratory equipment. Amongst her leading models are human proximal tubule, CNS, vasculature and intestinal models. MIMETAS works for nearly all major pharmaceutical companies worldwide on a variety of models for compound screening, toxicity testing and transport studies. Ultimately, MIMETAS aims to apply her models in the clinic in order to enable evidence-based therapy selection using diseased cells of individual patients.


Related report: Organs on Chips, Yole Développement, April 2017

Organs on Chips Market and Technology Report March 2017 Report.pdf Adobe Acrobat Pro

Currently worth a few million dollars, the emerging organs-on-chips market has the potential to become a multi-billion dollar market.


• Introduction to the problems organs-on-chips could solve in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, agro-food, chemical, consumer goods industries
• Overview of organs-on-chips technologies, users and applications
• Comparison of organs-on-chips technologies with other alternatives and overview of their respective strengths and limitations
• History of the organs-on-chips industry from its inception to its current state
• Summary of funding, partnerships and collaborations
• The impact of regulatory agencies
• How will this industry evolve and why?
• Analysis of different business models including service, sales of devices, and hybrid
• Market data and forecasts 2015-2022
• Who is offering/developing which types of organs?
• Key technical aspects including cell sources, flow control and perfusion systems, materials and manufacturing

More information here

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