Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) has teamed up with Emulate to incorporate organ-on-a-chip technology into its R&D programs. The project will allow J&J to assess whether the technology can do a better job than animal models at assessing pulmonary thrombosis and predicting liver toxicity.
Emulate set up shop last year with $12 million in Series A funding and technology developed at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, assets it has used to nail a deal with J&J. The collaboration will see Emulate's lung-on-a-chip and liver-on-a-chip technologies evaluated in the crucible of real-world R&D. If the technology impresses, J&J sees it cutting the need for animal testing while also reducing all-important clinical-phase attrition rates by improving the accuracy of safety forecasts.
"By doing much more research with this type of new model, you can hone in on what are the most likely products you can bring forward,"J&J CSO Dr. Paul Stoffels told FierceBiotech. The ability to support earlier, more accurate go/no-go decisions--and in doing so save companies from expensive clinical trial failures--would secure Emulate a place in the R&D toolkit. A lot of work will need to be done before this occurs--not least to convince regulators of the technology's effectiveness--but the deal with J&J is a positive step forward.
J&J will use lung-on-a-chip technology to evaluate pulmonary thrombosis and its liver-mimicking equivalent to predict liver toxicity. The chips are lined with human cells and are designed to mimic the chemical and mechanical characteristics of their target tissue. Such intricate devices are made possible through the use of microchip fabrication processes, which are able to create tiny channels that--in the case of the lung-on-a-chip--house the artificial lung and also mimic inhalation and exhalation.
- read FierceBiotech's article and FierceMedicalDevices' take
- here's the release (PDF)