Expanded In Vitro Modeling Tools Will Enable Researchers to Better Understand the Effects of Advanced Biologics and Gene Therapies
BOSTON, Mass. – January 8, 2021 – Emulate, Inc., a leading provider of advanced in vitro models, today announced an application roadmap for their market leading organ-on-a-chip technology that expands beyond small molecule applications and addresses the growing focus on targeted and advanced biologics within drug development. These new human organ models enable the technology to be used within stages of the drug discovery and development process that are iterative, including, target identification and validation, mechanistic studies, drug delivery and biomarker identification.
Today, biologic drugs comprise 40 percent of the drug development pipeline, a percentage that is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. Biologics are highly specific and tailored to human pathways and targets, often involving complex engagement of immune cells. Current in vitro and animal models have struggled to recapitulate the complexity and human specificity to drive safety and efficacy resulting in delay, failure and ultimately driving high development costs. These pharmaceutical industry challenges highlight the need for a more integrated human biology approach to drug discovery that organ-chips can provide.
“The models that helped researchers develop small molecule therapies will not necessarily succeed in modeling biologics and immune therapies. It is possible to better understand the mechanisms of inflammation, drug delivery, toxicity, and more using organs-on-chips as models,” said Jim Corbett, chief executive officer at Emulate. “These new organ-on-a-chip applications increase the applicability of this technology throughout the drug discovery and development process and into many additional therapeutic areas.“
New Applications and Services
CNS Disorders: Neurodegenerative disease and neuroinflammation are areas of intensive drug development due to the large societal impact. Central nervous system (CNS) disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, have a 100 percent failure rate for disease modifying therapies using historic static and non-human modeling methods. The new Emulate Brain-Chip is a comprehensive model of the neurovascular unit, including the blood-brain barrier, which can more comprehensively model cell-cell interactions than other methods and technologies.
Drug Delivery: A vast number of gene-therapy drugs are in development, and these require vectors to deliver their genetic payload into patient cells, including Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) and lipid nanoparticles (LNPs). Animal models have limited predictive capacity for AAVs because their chromosomes don’t express the same region as the human chromosomes that is required for AAV-mediated site specific integration. Alternative in vitro technologies do not accurately mimic human biology because cells have to be in their native state in order to faithfully reproduce AAV and LNP penetration. The Emulate Liver-Chip and Brain-Chip will be able to enhance researchers’ ability to model cellular-drug interaction.
Immune Cell Recruitment: Circulating immune cells (including T-cells and neutrophils) and their recruitment from blood into organs is central to disease biology and to drug action across immuno-oncology, inflammation, and infectious disease. Current animal models are inadequate due to species differences in the immune system while in vitro technologies lack complexity to model cellular activation and subsequent transmigration from a vascular to tissue compartment. Emulate is working towards offerings to aid immune cell recruitment studies using the Emulate Intestine-Chip, Liver-Chip, and Lung-Chip.
Microbiome: A growing number of therapeutics in development are either bacteria engineered to act as medicines or compounds designed to modulate the intestinal microbiome. Animal models are not optimal for assessing these because their native intestinal microbiome is significantly different from humans. Existing in vitro technologies have not been able to support the direct bacterial co-culture required for modeling these interventions. The Emulate Intestine-Chip for the microbiome provides researchers a human-relevant model that will offer enhanced predictability.
New organ models and application protocols will be introduced throughout the year, first as Emulate services and ultimately as validated Bio-Kits for commercial and academic use. To learn more about Emulate Organ-Chips, visit emulatebio.com.
About Emulate, Inc.
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.
Gwen Gordon for Emulate