The drug development process is a long road that involves not only many years of research and large piles of money, but also a great deal of pre-clinical and clinical testing. Animals used during in vivo testing are not always good human analogues, and humans of course are always at risk for potentially serious side effects should they participate in clinical trials. Recently, the use of in vitro testing with cell or tissue cultures has been increasing. However, even these cultures often use unorganized monolayers of cells that lack the structural and functional properties of an actual organ. Moreover, most tools don’t have the adequate resolution for recording extracellular and intracellular activity. Finally, standard cell cultures usually don’t scale up well for high-throughput testing.
Medgadget was recently invited to attend the imec Technology Forum (ITF) conference in Antwerp, Belgium, where imec, a non-profit R&D innovation organization, unveiled an advanced organ-on-chip device that could be used to improve the screening process of drug candidates. We had the opportunity to learn more about the device and see it in action on the conference’s demo floor.
The platform could also be easily modified to reprogram tissues by applying a voltage to the cells. Such a technique can be used to differentiate stem cells in a very controlled arrangement.
Right now, imec is looking for pharmaceutical and biotech companies to help test and further develop their platform. We’re excited to see how this technology will be used!
Here’s an animation describing how the organ-on-chip works:
Press release: Imec Presents Novel Organ-on-Chip Platform for Drug Screening…
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