“Emulate is an expert and passionate team collaborating to adapt Organs-on-Chips technology for a range of applications in research and industry through this work on the International Space Station,” said Twyman Clements, Co-founder and CEO of Space Tango. “Together we are advancing new frontiers for understanding and potentially managing human disease by validating commercially-available systems to replace animal testing for assessing the effects of microgravity on long-duration space flight. By further optimizing Organs-on-Chips technology to meet the design requirements of automation, efficiency, and size for use on the International Space Station, we are also expanding the terrestrial applications for this technology.”
Emulate and Space Tango will adapt the instrumentation of Emulate’s Human Emulation System in order to use Organs-on-Chip technology on the International Space Station, including the automation of experiments in space-compatible dimensions. Technical developments will also include new fluorescent microscopy functionality to allow for continuous imaging within the Intestine-Chip throughout the space journey, enabling researchers on the ground to track the Organ-Chip in real-time which gives an unprecedented view of how the system responds in the unique environment of space and enables control of the experimental parameters for remote real-time adjustments if needed.
“There is exciting new potential to use our Intestine-Chip for research in space, including true-to-life functionality with a broad range of cell types that play a role in health and disease processes in the intestine, including sensory neurons, immune cells, and bacteria,” said Chris Hinojosa, Director of Discovery at Emulate. “As we further enhance our system for use in space, we are, in turn, improving our system for use by many researchers and companies on Earth.” Hinojosa and Katia Karalis, Executive Vice President of Research at Emulate, will co-lead the team working on the project.
About the Human Emulation System™ Powered by Organs-On-Chips Technology
Based on Organs-on-Chips technology, Emulate has created a new living Human Emulation System™ that provides a real-time 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 today’s cell culture or animal-based experimental testing. Each of Emulate’s proprietary Organ-Chips — such as the lung, liver, brain, intestine or 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, micro-engineered environment that recreates the natural physiology and mechanical forces that cells experience within the human body.
About the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory
In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the ISS as the nation’s newest national laboratory to maximize its use for improving quality of life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This unique laboratory environment is now available for use by non-NASA U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector, providing these customers access to a permanent microgravity setting, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied environments of space. The ISS National Lab is managed by the Center for the Advancement for Science in Space, under agreement with NASA.
About NCATS and Tissue Chips in Space
NCATS has partnered with the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory (ISS National Lab), to collaborate on refining tissue chip technology for biomedical research use on the space station through the NCATS Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program, announced in October 2016. The goal of the Tissue Chips in Space initiative is to create tissue- and organ-on-chip platforms that can be sent to the ISS National Lab so that scientists can better understand the role of microgravity on human health and diseases and translate those findings to improve human health on Earth. Through NCATS’ collaboration with space implementation partners, NCATS seeks to rapidly evolve tissue chip technology through miniaturization and automation of the chips when they are deployed to ISS, resulting in a much smaller footprint and essentially a turnkey technology for ease of use here on Earth.
About Space Tango
Space Tango provides improved access to microgravity through their Open Orbit platform for research and commercial manufacturing applications that benefit life on Earth. The Company believes the microgravity environment is a new frontier for discovery and innovation. Space Tango is focused on creating a new global market 250 miles up in low Earth orbit and envisions a future where the next important breakthroughs in both healthcare and technology will occur off the planet. Recognized for their expertise in microgravity design and operations, Space Tango believes that by exploring with industry and educational partners of all kinds, we can improve life on Earth and inspire the next generation to continue to expand the horizon of this new frontier. For more information, visit www.spacetango.com.
About Emulate, Inc.
Emulate Inc. is a privately held company that creates living products for understanding how diseases, medicines, chemicals, and foods affect human health. Our Human Emulation System™ sets a new standard for recreating true-to-life human biology and is being used to advance product innovation, design, and safety across a range of applications including drug development, agriculture, cosmetics, food, and chemical-based consumer products. Emulate continues to develop a wide range of Organ-Chips and disease models through collaborations with industry partners and internal R&D programs. Emulate is also working with clinical partners to produce Organ-Chips personalized with an individual patient’s stem cells, for applications in precision medicine and personalized health. 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.
1. Obata Y. and Pachnis V., “The Effect of Microbiota and the Immune System on the Development and Organization of the Enteric Nervous System.” Gastroenterology. 2016 Nov;151(5):836-844.
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Header Image: Crab nebula. Credit: NASA / Hubble Telescope