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AstraZeneca and Emulate advance ‘organs-on-chips’ research partnership

Company advances partnership, aiming to integrate technology into full-scale R&D efforts

After becoming its first big pharma partner several years ago, AstraZeneca has given Emulate a major seal of approval by embedding its ‘organs on a chip’ technology into its own research team.

Each of Emulate’s proprietary Organ-Chips — including the lung, liver, brain, intestine and kidney — contains minature hollow channels lined with tens of thousands of living human cells and tissues, and are similar in size to an AA battery.

The Boston, Mass-based company’s technology aims to replicate the environment of a human organ much more accurately than an animal model, allowing a scaling back of animal testing and reduced R&D costs and timescales.

AstraZeneca’s Innovative Medicines and Early Development (IMED) Biotech Unit will now integrate the novel technology into the everyday operations at its IMED Drug Safety labs.

Mene Pangalos

“Organs-on-Chips technology has the potential to enhance and accelerate our ability to translate science into innovative medicines for patients,” said Dr. Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice-President of AstraZeneca’s IMED Biotech Unit and Global Business Development (pictured).

“Working side by side with Emulate scientists will enable us to better develop the platform and may improve our ability to predict adverse and non-adverse effects in humans."

AstraZeneca is now seeing an upswing in its R&D outputs, after a long barren spell for its labs earlier in the decade, and the Emulate partnership is part of the firm’s drive to embrace new technologies and partnerships which seems to have aided this return to form.

Dr. Geraldine Hamilton, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Emulate said the maturing relationship with AZ was helping her company demonstrate how the technology can be integrated into the industry's existing workflows.

Organ on chip

An initial focus will be to use Emulate's Liver-Chip for safety testing of drug candidates across the AstraZeneca pipeline with the goal of submitting Organ-Chip data within the regulatory framework for new drugs.

The deal also allows for Emulate’s technology to be adopted across AstraZeneca’s therapeutic areas and will enable the two companies to develop functionality of three other Emulate Organ-Chips — the Lung Tumour-Chip, Lung-Chip, and Glomerulus Kidney-Chip.

Other companies working with Emulate include Takeda and Roche, Merck & Co. and Janssen.

The hope is that the technology can deliver new insights into human disease mechanisms, and allow research teams to predict the clinical relevance of candidate drug safety and efficacy.

Emulate is now taking its platform one stage further, and has created a new living Human Emulation System that provides a real-time window into the mechanisms of human biology and disease – opening up the possibility of greater precision and detail than existing cell culture or animal testing.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

16th May 2018

From: Research

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