Ben Swenor 11/30/2022 at 10:22 am
I read that the precision medicine market is expected to reach $88 billion this year, driven in large part by the advancing tide of technological innovation. No doubt, in my opinion, MPS systems and specifically , Organ-Chip technology should be counted among this tide.
It’s easy to envision the benefits of leveraging Organ-Chips for personalized medicine: By building a chip with a patient’s own cells, you can not only understand the specific disease that is plaguing them, but enables you to best screen the most relevant drugs to see what this specific patient will benefit from. This is a huge step up from transgenic animal models, which we know have their drawbacks: they’re genetically distinct in clinically important ways and they’re free of many of the environmental factors that influence human disease. While in-vitro systems also are in a controlled environment, they have the key advantage of recapitulating the human specific pathways necessary to discovering and testing relevant therapeutics. One key area that comes to mind is the gut microbiome, which animal models are so other-worldly that testing in these animal models doesn’t translate to humans at all. Even among humans there is such diversity in microbiomes that having a proper tool like Organ-Chips would be transformational to the field.
Clearly precision medicine is a fast-growing part of the medical industry, and there seems to be more than enough evidence to suggest that Organ-Chips would only accelerate this growth. Yet, we haven’t seen technology like Organ-Chips integrated on a large scale. Instead, it seems like Organ-Chips are mostly spoken about as a futuristic technology that may one day help precision medicine.
This does not have to be the case though, it seems like we could take small steps now that would greatly impact the field. One suggestion I’ve seen is that we start with an intermediary model using chips with primary or stem cells from genetic subpopulations to screen for drugs that might be effective against patient subpopulations — precise but not yet at the individual level. That could reduce the cost and time to develop targeted drugs and increase the potential for success. Which in turn, could begin to shift the scientific community’s collective mindset toward acceptance.
So, how do we catapult the possibilities of Organ-Chips into a clinical reality? What do you think? Does the above suggestion resonate as a reasonable approach toward integrating Organ-Chips into mainstream precision medicine?
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