‘Organs-on-chips’ developer Emulate seeks drug testing revolution

A leading company in ‘on-chip’ technology is set for commercial expansion following its latest funding round.

Spun out from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Emulate seeks to overhaul existing R&D testing with its ‘organs-on-chips’ technology – small silicone chips that can re-create tissue microenvironments found in various organ systems.

The technology is intended to provide a more accurate model for drug testing than traditional cell culture or animal testing models by replicating healthy tissue and its response to medicines, chemicals and disease. The chips also allow for the addition of external forces to replicate tissue workings, for example, lung tissue chips can be manipulated to imitate breathing.

Now, the company is looking to commercialise its ‘Human Emulation System’ with the help of an additional $17 million in series B funding, bringing the total round to $45 million.

The extra cash comes from a new group of private, institutional and non-institutional investors, adding to the long list of existing backers that includes Hansjörg Wyss, NanoDimension, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, OS Fund, Atel Ventures, ALS Finding, and Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp).

“We are excited to expand this Series B financing to include the support of a wide group of such high-quality investors who are aligned with our vision to commercialize the Organs-on-Chips technology,” said James Coon, CEO of Emulate. “The funding will help accelerate product development cycles, and improve product efficacy and safety across a range of industries – including pharmaceutical, chemical, food and consumer products companies.”

Alongside the extra funding, Emulate has also revealed a strategic partnership with Covance, a pre-clinical testing unit of LabCorp, to initially integrate the company’s kidney-on-a-chip model into its own drug testing.

Covance holds a number of experimental drug contracts with major drug companies and the new deal will help promote Emulate’s offering to the wider pharmaceutical market.

Emulate has already attracted interest from a number of companies, including Johnson & Johnson, US Merck, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Seres Therapeutics and the Michael J Fox Foundation.

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