Organ-on-chip technology: The next wave in the healthcare market | HCLTech

Organ-on-chip technology: The next wave in the healthcare market

What impact will organ-on-chip technology play in the dynamics of the healthcare industry?
4 minutes read
Mousume Roy
Mousume Roy
APAC Reporter, HCLTech
4 minutes read
Organ-on-chip technology: The next wave in the healthcare market

The convergence of biology and technology has given rise to groundbreaking advancements in healthcare. Among the various technologies fueling the biomedical R&D value chain, organ-on-chip (OOC) is a breakthrough. From discovery and testing to real-world use cases, OOC integration has revolutionized drug discovery and opened new frontiers in personalized medicine. 

The recent HCLTech Trends 2024 report highlights the growing hype around OOC technology. One in five respondents in our survey view it as a pioneering innovation with immense potential to revolutionize diverse industries. “OOC’s profitability is promising, but it needs to catch up on certain parameters like regulatory approvals for swift market adoption,” said Shrikanth Shetty, Chief Growth Officer, Life Sciences and Healthcare at HCLTech.  

According to DataM Intelligence, the global organ-on-chip market will reach $796.7 million by 2030. Organ-on-chip is an intriguing scientific and technological development that combines biology with microtechnology and will mimic critical aspects of human physiology. The chip is a microfluidic device containing networks of hair-fine microchannels for guiding and manipulating minute volumes of solution.

Organ-on-chip success stories

Research estimates that only 13.8% of all tested drugs demonstrate ultimate clinical success and obtain approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To address this bottleneck in drug development, Donald Ingber and his team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically-Inspired Engineering developed the first human “organ-on-a-chip” (organ chip) model of the lung that replicates human organ-level physiology and pathophysiology with high fidelity, according to a 2010 report.

Since then, the Wyss Institute has generated 15 micro-physiological models of living human organs, including the lung, intestine, kidney, skin, bone marrow and blood-brain barrier. Wyss now employs about 300 staff and has become the world's flagship for organ-on-a-chip research and biologically inspired engineering.

Organ chips closely mimic in vivo counterparts and can be powerful tools for predictive toxicology, mainly when predicting drug-induced liver injury (DILI). According to one of the most extensive organ-chip studies, each of the 22 hepatotoxic drugs used in the study had previously been found to be safe in animal studies, only to be reclassified as toxic once given to patients. Supplementing animal studies with organ chips can prevent almost 90% of DILI cases in clinical trials, which means fewer failed trials, liver transplants and deaths.

Latest technology in healthcare

The OOC market's success is intrinsically tied to the latest healthcare technologies, and several noteworthy advancements have shaped the landscape. 

CRISPR gene editing: The revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology has transformed the possibilities of personalized medicine. In the context of organ-on-a-chip, CRISPR enables the precise modification of genes in organ models, allowing researchers to mimic various genetic conditions and study their impact on drug responses.

AI and ML: Integrating AI and ML in healthcare has dramatically enhanced the analysis of complex biological data generated by OOC platforms. These technologies facilitate predictive modeling, accelerating drug discovery and enabling researchers to identify potential risks and benefits more efficiently.

3D bioprinting: 3D bioprinting has emerged as a transformative technology, enabling the creation of intricate organ structures for use in organ-on-a-chip models. This advancement enhances the accuracy of organ simulations, bringing researchers closer to replicating human physiological responses in a controlled environment.

Future trends and challenges

While the OOC market has made remarkable strides, specific challenges and future trends merit consideration.

Regulatory approval: As the adoption of organ-on-a-chip technology increases, navigating the regulatory landscape becomes crucial. Ensuring these innovative approaches meet stringent regulatory standards remains challenging, but collaboration between industry stakeholders and regulatory bodies is actively addressing this concern. The International Consortium for Innovation and Quality in Pharmaceutical Development (IQ Consortium) published guidelines that detail baseline characteristics that each new organ chip must demonstrate to qualify as a valid model. These guidelines help legitimize organ chips and ease the path toward regulatory approval. 

Increased collaboration: The future of the OOC market will likely witness increased cooperation between pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology firms and research institutions. Collaborative efforts can accelerate the development of standardized organ-on-a-chip models and foster a more comprehensive understanding of drug responses.

Ethical considerations: As organ-on-a-chip technology progresses, addressing ethical concerns surrounding using human-derived cells and tissues in research is essential. Ensuring transparency in how samples are sourced and used and establishing ethical guidelines for experimentation are also essential.

Cost and accessibility: Despite its potential, the high initial costs associated with implementing organ-on-chip technology pose a challenge to widespread adoption. Efforts to optimize production processes and reduce costs are crucial for making this technology more accessible to a broader range of researchers and institutions.

Standardization and reproducibility: Achieving standardization in organ-on-chip models remains a challenge due to the inherent complexity of biological systems. Ensuring reproducibility across different laboratories and settings is critical for the credibility and widespread acceptance of research findings.

Integration with traditional research methods: Integrating organ-on-chip technology with traditional research methods and existing workflows can be challenging. Researchers and institutions may need help merging organ-on-chip data with conventional preclinical model data.

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Looking ahead

The rise of OOC technology reflects the convergence of cutting-edge technologies, strategic collaborations and a growing demand for innovative healthcare solutions. As we navigate the future, the integration of CRISPR gene editing, AI, ML and 3D bioprinting will continue to shape the OOC market, offering unprecedented opportunities for advancements in healthcare — from drug discovery and disease modeling to personalized medicine — ultimately improving patient outcomes and transforming the dynamics of the healthcare industry.

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