Growing demand for organ-on-a-chip services prompt CN Bio expansion

Demand from discovery labs for so-called organ-on-a-chip based testing is growing, according to CN Bio, which has doubled capacity at the bioengineering company’s testing facility.

The U.K.-based firm spoke about the growing market for these OOCs—mini cultures that model the activities, mechanics and responses of organs or organ systems—to coincide with the opening of the expanded lab in Cambridge, England, this week.

“In addition to the extra square footage, we brought in some additional technology: a Luminex [assay], three new microbiological safety cabinets and four new PhysioMimix OOC systems to scale up our project capacity,” Gareth Guenigault, lead scientist of CN Bio’s contract research services, told FierceCRO.

“By doing so, we envisage doubling the number of organ-on-a-chip projects that we can run at any given time,” he added.

“We have hired three additional scientists into our services team over the last year in readiness. Should the rate of demand accelerate beyond our expectations, we will of course consider hiring additional team members.”

At the expanded facility, CN Bio will provide services and products to both drug developers and CROs.


Market set for growth

The OOC market—which was valued at $103 million in 2020—is growing 31% a year, according to a recent report by Allied Market Research. Current estimates suggest it will reach a value of $1.6 billion by 2030.

There are several reasons for this dramatic growth rate, says Audrey Dubourg, product  manager at CN Bio.

“Firstly, there are parts of drug discovery, notably the assessment of drug safety and efficacy, where the data from current in vivo and in vitro models fails to translate to the clinic,” Dubourg said. “If the data were more predictive, drug attrition rates wouldn’t be so high. Drug discovery companies are acutely aware of this problem and are seeking solutions.

“Secondly, there is growing political pressure to reduce, refine, replace the number of animal models used in drug discovery because of ethical concerns and because they simply don’t represent humans very well.”

In contrast, OOCs—also known as microphysiological systems—are more representative of human organ systems and therefore have greater value for safety and toxicity testing.

Or, as Dubourg puts it, the OOC approach “enables researchers to bridge the gap between preclinical assessment and clinical testing, to fast-track decision making, reduce the risk of failure in the late clinical stage and decrease the time/cost of bringing new drugs to market.”