Inside out – the coming of age of organ-on-a-chip technology

Inside out – the coming of age of organ-on-a-chip technology

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about pharmacology, and the healthcare industry at large, is the continued pursuit of new ideas and innovations. Not simply for the sake of change, but to develop better, more appropriate solutions that improve the lives of patients around the world.

However, drug development is notoriously slow and expensive. On average, it can take up to ten years for a drug to make it from lab to market, if it even makes it through approvals at all, given that approximately 90% of drugs fail to make it to market.

By law, human and animal testing is required before a drug can be approved. However, this approach has limitations. Take mouse models, for example. In theory, given that mice and humans share 92% of their DNA, drug candidates that successfully target and activate genes in mouse models should achieve the same results in humans. And yet, many drugs fail to make this leap from mouse to human.

Oh, to be a mouse would be a fine thing indeed. The trouble is, that we are not, and so conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and diabetes – ailments that have all been cured in mice – continue to impact patients worldwide.

While animal models have, in the past, played a vital role in developing lifesaving drugs, in an industry where good enough is never really good enough the limitations of this approach naturally became the target for innovative thinkers. In a bid to replace, refine, and reduce reliance on animal models, high-tech alternatives began to emerge, allowing drugmakers to explore new ways to unlock the molecular mechanisms causing modern diseases.

Read the full article in pharmaphorum's Deep Dive digital magazine