The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University is commercializing its human ‘Organs-on-Chips’ technology in a newly formed private company to accelerate development of pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic, and personalized medicine products.
The announcement follows a worldwide license agreement between Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) and the start-up Emulate Inc, relating to the use of the Institute’s automated human Organs-on-Chips platform.
“This is a big win towards achieving our Institute’s mission of transforming medicine and the environment by developing breakthrough technologies and facilitating their translation from the benchtop to the marketplace,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber, MD, PhD, and leader of the Wyss Institute’s Organs-on-Chips effort.
Created with microchip manufacturing methods, an Organ-on-a-Chip is a cell culture device, the size of a computer memory stick, that contains hollow channels lined by living cells and tissues that mimic organ-level physiology. These devices produce levels of tissue and organ functionality not possible with conventional culture systems, while permitting real-time analysis of biochemical, genetic and metabolic activities within individual cells.
The Wyss Institute team also has developed an instrument to automate the Organs-on-Chips, and to link them together by flowing medium that mimics blood to create a “Human-Body-on-Chips” and better replicate whole body-level responses. This automated human Organ-on-Chip platform could represent an important step towards more predictive and useful measures of the efficacy and safety of potential new drugs, chemicals and cosmetics, while reducing the need for traditional animal testing. Human Organs-on-Chips lined by patient-derived stem cells also could potentially provide a way to develop personalized therapies in the future.
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