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Modeling Virus Evolution and Rapid Drug Repurposing with a Human Airway Lung-Chip

November 4, 2021
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Synopsis

Join us on November 4th, 11am – 12pm ET

Due to the rapid evolution of viruses, including influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), researchers are struggling to match pace in developing antivirals and vaccines as well as in identifying which drugs can be repurposed for new uses. Furthermore, many of the models used to explore virus evolution, vaccine development, and alternative use cases for approved therapeutics involve animals or studies in culture dishes, making it difficult to faithfully model influenza infection and test whether existing drug candidates block infection from respiratory pathogens like SARS-CoV-2. Since these preclinical drug testing models are not based in human biology, the results they produce often fail to accurately depict what the human responses to a disease or therapeutic will be.

Here, we present how a human Airway Lung-Chip can be used to recapitulate influenza virus infection and evolution in vitro as well as to examine existing candidate therapeutics for both influenza and SARS-CoV-2. Studies show that the Lung-Chip can accurately recapitulate influenza viral evolution that occurs through mutation or gene reassortment. These features of the Airway Lung-Chip make it easier for researchers to keep up with continuously changing viral strains, repurpose existing drugs to fight novel diseases, and discover new therapeutics.

 

Key Points You Will Learn

  • How the human Airway Lung-Chip recapitulates human host responses to virus infections
  • How the Lung-Chip can be used to study spontaneous viral evolution in vitro
  • How the Lung-Chip model can be leveraged to repurpose existing drugs for COVID-19, influenza, and other viral diseases
  • How Lung-Chips can be made with cells from patients with different diseases to model disease-specific responses

 

Speaker Spotlight

 

Dr. Don Ingber
Founding Director, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering

Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., is the Founding Director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He received his B.A., M.A., M.Phil., M.D., and Ph.D. from Yale University. 

Ingber is a pioneer in the field of biologically inspired engineering. At the Wyss Institute, he currently leads scientific and engineering teams that cross a broad range of disciplines to develop breakthrough bioinspired technologies that advance healthcare and to improve sustainability. His work has led to major advances in mechanobiology, cell structure, tumor angiogenesis, tissue engineering, systems biology, nanobiotechnology, and translational medicine. Through his work, Ingber also has helped break down boundaries between science, art, and design. 

Ingber has authored more than 500 publications and 170 patents, founded 7 companies including Emulate Inc., and presented 550 plenary presentations and invited lectures worldwide. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Inventors, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was named one of the Top 20 Translational Researchers world-wide in 2012 and 2020 (Nature Biotechnology) as well as a Leading Global Thinker of 2015 (Foreign Policy magazine) and has received numerous other honors in a broad range of disciplines, including the Robert A. Pritzker Award as well as the Shu Chien Award (Biomedical Engineering Society), Rous Whipple Award (American Society for Investigative Pathology), Lifetime Achievement Award (Society of In Vitro Biology), Leading Edge Award (Society of Toxicology), Founders Award (Biophysical Society), Department of Defense Breast Cancer Innovator Award, and Wilbur Cross Medal from Yale University. 

Ingber’s Organ-Chip technology was named one of the Top 10 Emerging Technologies by the World Economic Forum and Design of the Year by the London Design Museum. It was also acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City for its permanent design collection. 

 

Daniel Levner, PhD
Co-Founder, Board Member & CTO, Emulate Inc. 

Daniel Levner is the Chief Technology Officer at Emulate. A serial deep-tech entrepreneur, Levner co-founded Emulate and brings to it extensive experience in biological and engineering technology development and commercialization. Levner joined the Emulate founding team during his role as a Senior Staff Scientist with the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. There, he led the advanced engineering team responsible for developing the Emulate Organ-Chips platform and played a key leadership role in formulating innovative approaches for bridging biologists, engineers, and business stakeholders.  

Prior to directing the Organs-on-Chips program, Levner worked with world-renowned Harvard geneticist Prof. George M. Church in programs related to medical diagnostics, DNA/RNA sequencing, and multiplexed biological sample analysis techniques. As an entrepreneur, Levner co-founded a medical diagnostics startup company and, earlier in his career, an optical telecommunications startup company.  

Levner received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering and an M.S. in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University. He has authored numerous publications as well as more than 70 issued and pending US patents. 

 

Resources

 

Publications 

Clinically Relevant Influenza Virus Evolution Reconstituted in a Human Lung Airway-on-a-Chip 

A human-airway-on-a-chip for the rapid identification of candidate antiviral therapeutics and prophylactics  

Emulate Blog 

Biomedical Engineers and Virologists Team Up for Rapid Drug Repurposing for COVID-19 

About Emulate

Emulate Inc. is a privately held company that creates advanced in vitro models for understanding how diseases, medicines, chemicals, and foods affect human health. Our lab-ready Human Emulation System® includes three components: Zoë® Culture Module, Organ-Chips, and analytical software applications. The platform provides a window into the inner workings of human biology and disease—offering researchers a new technology designed to predict human response with greater precision and detail than conventional cell culture or animal-based experimental testing. Each of the Emulate proprietary Organ-Chip models—including the liver, intestine, and kidney—contains tiny hollow channels lined with tens of thousands of living human cells and tissues and is approximately the size of an AA battery. An Organ-Chip is a living, microengineered environment that recreates the natural physiology and mechanical forces that cells experience within the human body. Our founding team pioneered the Organs-on-Chips technology at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Emulate holds the worldwide exclusive license from Harvard University to a robust and broad intellectual property portfolio for the Organs-on-Chips technology and related systems. For more information, please visit emulatebio.com.

Discover the Emulate Lung-Chip

Study lung physiology, disease, and the effect of drug candidates

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