As our team progressed on the project, they developed different Organ-Chips exponentially faster, said Chris Hinojosa, Director of Discovery. “It was interesting because the Lung-Chip probably took four years to develop. The Intestine-Chip took two years, and we had a working model of the Small Airway Lung-Chip in under a year.”
“By starting with a system that is as simple as possible, we can add complexity as we find necessary,” Hinojosa said. “That way we have control over the variables and can add or remove variables to see how they contribute to response.”
While DARPA sets wildly ambitious goals, they aren’t necessarily interested in how you achieve them. “The way something is engineered is simply a means to an end for DARPA,” Sliz said.
The collaboration helped to bring our platform to a state today where it’s contributing to the fields of drug and product development. And unlike traditional testing models — like cell culture or animals — our Human Emulation System more accurately recreates human biology outside the body. “We’re not only answering questions better,” Sliz says, “but we’re also answering better questions. Today we cannot only determine if a drug is toxic, but we can also determine why it’s toxic and how it reacts with the human body.”
“So going from the chip to human, from data to answers,” Sliz adds. “It’s one of the things we like to say.”
Though we have left academia and are now working to validate our technology for use in fields of pharmaceutical and product development, our designers, biologists, and engineers continue to work with the Wyss Institute and DARPA. And as we proceed with the collaboration, we believe that we will gain greater insights about how to improve and develop our platform to even more accurately emulate human biology.