The World Economic Forum selected organ-on-a-chip (OOAC) technology as one of 2016’s top ten emerging technologies. Essentially, OOAC mimics biological environments on a microfluidic chip for numerous purposes.
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The field draws together expertise from various disciplines, including cell biology, engineering, and biomaterial technology, to develop unique microenvironments that simulate that of an organ to study the structural and functional characteristics of biological tissue and understand how they may respond to pharmaceuticals and environmental stimuli.
OOAC is considered next-generation technology and has yet to meet its full potential. Here, we discuss its uses and recent developments, give an overview of the global market, and predict how it might develop in the future.
Application Areas of Organ-on-a-Chip
Several applications of OOAC have been established in precision medicine and biological defense strategies.
Because OOAC was originally developed as a micro-scale platform to mimic the human body environment, it is vitally useful in producing develop human tissue models for disease modeling and testing the efficacy and safety of novel pharmaceuticals. For this reason, OOAC is used in precision medicine, drug development, and drug screening.
In addition, the cosmetic, food, and chemical industries are beginning to find applications for OOAC in product testing. In the future, OOAC will likely become more established as an alternative testing method to remove the industry’s reliance on animal testing.
Hot topics in Organ-on-a-Chip
There are many trends apparent in recent OOAC technology developments. Research focuses predominantly on liver OOAC, lung-on-a-chip, kidney OOAC, and intestine-on-a-chip.
In September 2022, in vitro model provider Emulate Inc announced its new applications of associated virus transduction for liver OOAC, allowing scientists to investigate the efficacy and safety of adeno-associated virus vectors in an OOAC environment.
Other recent advancements in liver OOAC technologies have been achieved by Kane et al., who developed the first-ever liver-based system that consisted of microfluidic pores, and Lee et al., who designed a chip capable of mirroring the interstitial structure of endothelial cells and cultured primary hepatocytes. These innovations will help scientists optimize gene therapy and accelerate treatment development.
Lung-on-a-chip has particularly received much attention in recent years. So far, scientists have successfully developed platforms that establish extracorporeal lung models and lung pathologies. Many recent studies have focussed on designing OOAC technologies that regulate mechanical airway pressure and the blood–blood barrier (BBB) and monitor the effects of shear force on pathophysiological processes.
Another key area of development in OOAC is kidney OOAC. Recent studies have established OOAC platforms that enable rapid and individualized molecular and cellular analysis, disease modeling, and drug screening in kidney disease. Other approaches have established strategies to generate human islet organoids from human induced pluripotent stem cells, and these strategies will be invaluable to stem cell-based organic engineering and regenerative medicine.
Finally, intestine-on-a-chip technologies have been another hot topic in OOAC research. Recently, chips have been developed to reconstruct the microenvironment of the intestine. These chips have furthered our understanding of the intestinal microbiome and morphology and opened the door to personalized medicine for diseases that impact intestinal cells.
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Current Global Market of Organ-on-a-Chip
The current global OOAC market was valued at $103.44 million in 2020. Experts predict that this figure will grow to $1.6 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 31.1% between 2021 and 2030.
In 2020, the lung-on-chip segment of the global OOAC dominated the market. This trend is expected to endure throughout the current decade due to the growing need for laboratory-engineered chips to mimic lung functions to enable the accurate screening of novel drugs for respiratory illnesses.
Regionally, North America currently holds the largest share of the global OOAC market and is expected to maintain its grasp until 2030. North America’s strength in the global market is attributed to the presence of key players in this region and the increase in research and development activities for drug discovery and development in North American countries. Asia-Pacific, however, is also an important region in this market. Due to increased research and development, its market share will see vast growth over the next decade. India and China, in particular, will grow at a high CAGR from 2021 until 2030.
Key industry players include FzioMed, Inc., Amniox Medical, Inc., Human Regenerative Technologies, Amnio Technology, Derma Sciences, and MiMedx Group, Inc., among others.
Future Directions of Organ-on-a-Chip
The global OOAC market is being driven by the need to develop a deeper understanding of the physiology that underpins various diseases, as well as the need to develop new approaches to improve therapeutic offerings for these diseases.
In particular, the rising demand for lung-based organ culture & kidney applications will drive the future development of the OOAC market. The increased pressure to move away from animal testing will further propel the sector.
Finally, advancements in cell biology, microfabrication, and microfluidics will influence the OOAC market, leading to an increase in the adoption of OOAC across numerous applications.
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The OOAC market is positioned as a game-changing technology that combines the disciplines of tissue engineering, cell biology, and microfluidics. Advances in the OOAC industry are predicted to establish solutions to long-standing drug discovery and research challenges that will lead to individualized disease treatment.
Diseases relating to the liver, kidney, lung, and intestine will likely be the first to benefit from novel precision medicine approaches thanks to emerging applications of OOAC, although there is potential for OOAC technology to be leveraged into drug discovery and research for a wider range of illnesses and diseases. By the end of the decade, OOAC technologies will likely be fundamental to drug research and development across a vast number of indications.
- Emulate Announces New Gene Therapy Application Enabling Accelerated Development of Treatments for Genetic Diseases with Organ-on-a-Chip Technology [online]. Emulate. Available at: https://emulatebio.com/press/organ-chip-liver-aav-vector-announcement/ (Last accessed November 2022
- Danku, A.E. et al. Organ-on-a-chip: A survey of technical results and Problems. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 10 (2022). https://doi.org/10.3389/fbioe.2022.840674.
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- Jang K-J, Mehr AP, Hamilton GA, Mcpartlin LA, Chung S, Suh K-Y, Ingber DE. Human kidney proximal tubule-on-a-chip for drug transport and nephrotoxicity assessment. Integr Biol (Camb). 2013;5:1119–29. https://doi.org/10.1039/c3ib40049b.
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