BOSTON, Mass., May 23, 2017 — Emulate Inc. presented data today that shows expanded functionality in modeling viral infection on the Small Airway Lung-Chip. This advancement opens new opportunities for studying viral-induced exacerbations of asthma using a human-relevant system. The data demonstrates the capability to model human airway tissue on the Small Airway Lung-Chip and to reproduce infection with a virus in vitro — recreating viral-induced exacerbation commonly experienced by asthma patients. The studies in the Small Airway Lung-Chip were carried out as part of a collaborative project between Emulate and Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada.
The results of this collaborative research enable advanced human-relevant model systems that can lead to a better understanding of how viral infection worsens asthma symptoms, providing insights for developing new anti-inflammatory treatments, specifically for asthma. The research was presented at the American Thoracic Society annual meeting in Washington, DC, and showed:
• Recreation of airway tissue interfaces of the lung’s small airway, with differentiated mucociliary bronchiolar airway epithelium underlined by a microvascular endothelium which experiences fluid flow;
• Induction of a pro-inflammatory response characterized by cell death, goblet cells hyperplasia, and release of cytokines, when the Small Airway Lung-Chip was infected with human Rhinovirus (HRV), a leading cause of asthma exacerbation in children and adults;
• Effective modeling of molecular responses observed in severe asthma by showing altered interferon response and recruitment of circulating human neutrophils (immune cells);
• Pharmacological modulation of neutrophil recruitment by demonstrating that neutrophils, which drive innate inflammatory cell infiltration to the lungs in viral-induced asthma exacerbations, can be modulated by a selective CXCR2 antagonist drug agent.
“It has been a remarkable process for us to work with a leading pharmaceutical collaborator such as Merck, and our joint research has resulted in further advancing the capabilities of the Small Airway Lung-Chip,” said Geraldine A. Hamilton, Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer of Emulate. “Our Lung-Chip has now achieved new levels of functionality to more accurately recreate human biology for airway inflammation and respiratory disease applications. We are excited to continue to apply the Small Airway Lung-Chip to potentially accelerate the discovery and development of better and safer drugs for patients with challenging inflammatory diseases of the lung, such as COPD, asthma, and respiratory infections.”