Organ-on-Chips and Digital Twins:"The key to revolutionizing the drug development process"
Organ-on-Chips and Digital Twins:
In the field of biology, there has been significant progress in developing novel technologies that simulate and model biological systems.
One such technology are Organ-on-Chips. These chips offer incredible opportunities for researchers to improve drug development, accelerate biological research, and even personalize medicine. This article aims to explore the key benefits of Organ-on-Chips and their digital twins and highlights how these technologies can be applied to impact the drug development process.
Understanding Organ-on-Chip Technology
What is Organ-on-Chip?
Organ-on-Chip (OOC) technology is an innovative platform that uses microfluidic systems to mimic the function of living organs in vitro. These systems are designed to create a more physiologically relevant and controlled environment compared to traditional cell cultures or animal models .
OOC technology has the potential to revolutionize drug development and personalized medicine by providing researchers with a more accurate representation of human organs. This technology can simulate the complex interactions between cells and tissues, which is crucial for understanding the underlying mechanisms of diseases and drug responses.
The development of OOC technology has been driven by the need for more efficient and cost-effective drug development methods. Traditional drug development methods can take years and cost billions of dollars, with many drugs failing in clinical trials due to unforeseen side effects or lack of efficacy . OOC technology has the potential to reduce the time and cost of drug development by providing researchers with a more accurate representation of human organs, allowing for more effective preclinical testing.
The Rise of Digital Twin Platforms
Digital Twin technology is a relatively new concept that has been gaining traction in recent years. It involves creating a virtual model of a physical system, such as an organ or a process. This virtual model is then used to simulate the behavior of the physical system, allowing for analysis and optimization. The virtual model is continuously updated using machine learning and data analysis algorithms, making it an incredibly powerful tool.
Applications of Digital Twins in Biology
One of the most exciting applications of Digital Twins is in the field of biology. By creating a virtual model of a complex system, such as the human body, researchers can simulate disease progression, drug effects, and even optimize drug development. This has the potential to revolutionize the way we approach drug development and precision medicine.
Dr. Christian Maass, OoC Lead at esqLABS
“OOC technology has the potential to reduce the time and cost of drug development by providing researchers with a more accurate representation of human organs, allowing for more effective preclinical testing.”.
Benefits of Organ-on-Chip and Digital Twin Platforms
Enhanced Drug Development and Testing
One of the primary benefits of Organ-on-Chip (OOC) and Digital Twin platforms is that they offer the potential to accelerate drug development and testing, reducing the time and cost associated with bringing a new drug to market. Traditional drug development methods can be slow and expensive, with many potential drug candidates failing in clinical trials. However, OOC and Digital Twin platforms enable researchers to identify potential drug candidates that may not have been identified through traditional methods, allowing for more efficient and effective drug development , but also testing the safety and efficacy of new drugs in a more realistic and accurate way.
Reduction in Animal Testing
Using OOC and Digital Twin platforms can reduce the need for animal testing in drug development and other areas of biological research, making these platforms ethically appealing. Because these platforms use oftentimes human cells, they may better represent the biology of human organs, reducing the need for animal models, which can be costly, time-consuming, and ethically problematic.
How does esqLABS see the value of OoCs?
In truth, the extension of experimentally derived data from monolayer culture systems through to whole animals and humans, so-called in-vitro to in-vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) has been the domain of PBK/PBPK modelling and simulation for many years. OoC technologies provide additional data points that were previously missing and instead were derived from simulations.
Therefore, OOC data and measurements can offer an enhanced input to PBK modelling and simulation and provide the ‘micro-feedback’ needed to improve performance. Importantly, data can be used to provide a checkpoint for modelling and offer the chance to create an OOC-augmented model that offers a number of enhancements back to the OOC community. Such enhancements could include simulating a higher throughput of OOC measurements, e.g. for a virtual screening or population study , or incorporating features not currently captured in OOC systems e.g. immunological processes .
Figure 1: Discover the revolutionary technology of Organ-on-Chip and Digital Twin platforms that are transforming drug discovery.
OOC and Digital Twin platforms have the potential to revolutionize the field of biology and offer numerous benefits to researchers and patients alike. While there are still technical and ethical challenges to overcome, the future of medicine and biological research is undoubtedly exciting with the development of these technologies. It is essential that we continue to invest in these technologies and work towards expanding their use to accelerate drug development, precision medicine, and basic biological research.
About the author
Christian Maass is a physicist and computational biologist with over 15 years of academic and industrial international experience. He received his Master in Medical Physics from the University College London in 2012 and PhD from the University of Heidelberg in 2015 and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA until 2018. He specializes in developing and applying digital twins for micro-physiological systems and organs-on-chips (OoC). He is passionate about the integration of computational modeling and biological experiments for translational pharmacology applications. As a principal scientist in industry, Dr. Maass works on applications in various therapeutic areas, e.g. neurodegenerative, inflammatory, and metabolic diseases (Alzheimer, rheumatoid arthritis, NASH/NAFLD). Among others, he developed individualized PBK models for molecular radiotherapy (leukemia), automated workflows for big data (*omics), network-based analysis of inflammation diseases, and mechanistic modeling of OoC data. He is also leading the division to develop further strategies integrating OoC data and computational modeling for translational pharmacology applications.
esqLABS is a service company that supports decision-making processes at various milestones along the entire life cycle of pharmaceutical products, from research through development and at the point of care. ESQ leverages biological data through analysis in their modelling & simulation frameworks and helps to understand experimental data better and translate it to in-human response.
 Shroff et al., “Studying Metabolism with Multi-Organ Chips.”
 Wong, Siah, and Lo, “Estimation of Clinical Trial Success Rates and Related Parameters.”
 Maass et al., “Translational Assessment of Drug-Induced Proximal Tubule Injury Using a Kidney Microphysiological System”; Tsamandouras et al., “Quantitative Assessment of Population Variability in Hepatic Drug Metabolism Using a Perfused Three-Dimensional Human Liver Microphysiological System.”
 Tsamandouras et al., “Quantitative Assessment of Population Variability in Hepatic Drug Metabolism Using a Perfused Three-Dimensional Human Liver Microphysiological System.”
 Maass et al., “Translational Assessment of Drug-Induced Proximal Tubule Injury Using a Kidney Microphysiological System.”