Organs-on-a-chip have several applications of interest in the biomedical industry. This article discusses its use in the growing area of precision medicine.
Why is precision medicine a big deal?
Precision medicine gives healthcare professionals the ability to tailor therapy to a specific person. That way, each patient can receive treatment with better chances of success, . Research indicates that several factors may affect how the body responds to different drugs, including:
Genetic and epigenetic makeup
Unlike traditional medicine, precision medicine considers different drug response patterns among geographically and ethnically distinct populations. It tries to understand its molecular basis, .
With the promise of better outcomes and higher safety, it's no surprise that the precision medicine market is booming. The industry is expected to be worth $88 billion by 2022. Medical devices and drug manufacturers can benefit from this growth by targeting patients that don't respond to currently available treatments. Indeed, the whole healthcare system is likely to transform as precision medicine becomes widely available in the next few years, .
Precision medicine in practice
Advances in genomics and molecular biology allow professionals to select drugs or treatment protocols based on an individual's genetic profile. This helps to minimize adverse events and ensure better outcomes. Now physicians can go beyond the one-size-fits-all, prescribing to make better-informed decisions for their patients, .
Precision medicine also allows checking for an individual's susceptibility to certain diseases before they even appear. That way, physicians can monitor and recommend prevention measures.
The potential benefits of precision medicine are infinite, including, :
Shifting towards a more preventive practice
Reducing trial-and-error prescribing
Avoiding adverse events
Increasing patient's compliance
Reducing the time and cost of clinical trials
Reducing healthcare costs
Organs-on-chip for personalized drug development
Drug development requires massive time and capital investments. So, there is an urgent need for preclinical models that can predict drug response in human tissues and organs. Unfortunately, current screening methods involving computational models, cell culture platforms, and animal models can't make these predictions as accurately as the industry wants, .
Organ-on-a-chip (OOC) platforms may provide the answer to that matter. Moreover, they could solve the ethical issues involving animal testing, . Organs on-chip are microfluidic systems with controlled microenvironments in which cultured cells show functions that mimic human organ's physiology. These devices have particular characteristics like multiple cell types to ensure physiological balance. They should also mirror the most relevant biomechanical forces found in human tissues, .
With OOC, researchers can study a potential drug candidate's efficacy and safety, allowing personalized treatment optimization, .
OOC applications in precision medicine
Scientists can personalize OOC to reflect individual physiology by including blood samples, primary human tissues, and induced pluripotent stem cells. They can also customize the cell's culture microenvironment based on a person's health data. This level of personalization provides the opportunity to assess person-specific drug efficacy and safety and tailored disease prevention strategies, .
See some practical examples of this technology:
An airway-on-a-chip that contains primary patient alveolar epithelial cells
Vessels-on-chips with customized shapes according to the personal biomedical imaging data
Also, multi-organ chip systems could evaluate the dynamic integration of more complex combinations of personalized cell culture parameters, .
How can you get started?
Cellix’s 4U Pulse-Free Microfluidic Pressure Pump & Biochips
The future of personalized medicine is promising. If you'd like to start running experiments with organs-on-chip, Cellix can help you get started.
We can provide you with a complete set-up (organ-on-chip kit) or just the components you need.
The basic set-up for organs-on-chip experiments include:
Microfluidic chip to help mimic the physiological conditions and mechanical forces that occur in vivo.
Microfluidic pumps deliver culture media to your cells.
Our 4U 4-channel Microfluidic Pump is ideal for this type of experiment. This precision pressure pump has a stable and accurate flow rate and enables independent control of 4 different channels, controlling both pressure and flow. You can program your flow profile and efficiently manage all the pump features.
Flow sensors give you feedback on the flow control and help keep your experiments on track.
Sample reservoirs and other accessories to hold the culture media, deliver drugs, or flow a cell suspension through the organ-on-a-chip system.
Vogenberg, F. R., Isaacson Barash, C., & Pursel, M. (2010). Personalized medicine: part 1: evolution and development into theranostics. P & T : a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management, 35(10), 560–576.
Jodat, Y. A., Kang, M. G., Kiaee, K., Kim, G. J., Martinez, A. F., Rosenkranz, A., ... & Shin, S. R. (2018). Human-derived organ-on-a-chip for personalized drug development. Current pharmaceutical design, 24(45), 5471-5486.
Low, L. A., Mummery, C., Berridge, B. R., Austin, C. P., & Tagle, D. A. (2021). Organs-on-chips: into the next decade. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 20(5), 345-361.
van den Berg A, Mummery CL, Passier R, van der Meer AD. Personalised organs-on-chips: functional testing for precision medicine. Lab Chip. 2019 Jan 15;19(2):198-205. doi: 10.1039/c8lc00827b. PMID: 30506070; PMCID: PMC6336148.