Organ-on-chip is a technology that creates human organ systems in compact size on a micro-engineered chip which are the size of a regular AA battery.
This technology is beneficial to scientists in order to research the effects of medicines, chemicals, disease-causing bacteria and other factors that pose a threat to the human body. The technology comprises of a multi-channel 3-dimensional microfluidic cell culture chip that simulates the activities, mechanics, and physiological response of entire organs and organ system.
It can be termed as an artificial organ that comprises the significant subject matter of biomedical engineering research. The design for this technology varies depending upon the organ that needs to be simulated. The organs that have been simulated by microfluidic devices include cartilage, lung, kidney, heart, artery, bone, skin, etc.
The process of designing an artificial organ requires precise cellular manipulation along with the detailed understanding of the functions of the human body that respond to such simulations.
Organ-on-chips, or simply organ-chips, are designed immaculately to recreate the natural mechanical and physiological forces that cells experience in the human body.
These chips are integrated with the living human cells and feature compact fluid channels that enable airflow and reproduces blood similar to the human body. They are designed in such a way that they are flexible to the conditions inside the living human body and can recreate breathing motions or undergo muscle contractions. The organ-chips that are designed for liver, lung, intestine, or brain are compact in size, about the size of an AA battery.
It is possible for the researchers to collect data on the behavior, functionality, and responses of the organ at the molecular of cellular level as the organ-chips feature transparency.
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Similar to the installation of a chip inside a computer, organ-chips are placed precisely inside the human body. The body quickly adapts to this foreign object as the organ-chips are designed to recreate the human body’s living. This includes breathing motions, blood flow, secretion of enzymes, or releasing hormones. Modular instruments can be implemented in the form of chemicals, toxics, or medicines for testing the efficiency and responses on the organ-chips. Researchers and developers can analyze and observe the cells inside the organ-chips through the modular nature of the system. Scientists try to analyze the functions of these organ-chips by connecting them with different organ-chips and recording the simulation of how two different organs interact with each other. This helps them to understand better how the chips would function in a living body and what impact they would have over foreign substances.
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In order to mimic the functions of interconnected organs in the human body, researchers have developed an automated instrument to link multiple organ-chips by transferring fluids through the common vascular channels. This tool is specially designed to copy the controls of fluid flow, body physiology, and cell viability alongside permitting real-time observation of the cultured tissues. Furthermore, it also enables the physiological responses and complex interconnected biochemical responses across a wide range of organs. This revolutionary technology can be used to predict human pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) responses of drugs.
Currently, scientists are working on making advances on specific human diseases and conditions with the help of organ-on-chip in order to identify new therapeutics and clinical biomarkers. Furthermore, reforms are being made in order to develop organ chip that could facilitate vaccine development and develop novel organ-specific drug delivery systems. This technology can be used in introducing personalized medicine inside the human stem cells which can engineer high functionality of a specialized cell type. In-depth research is being carried to enhance the functionality of digital manufacturing that would fabricate an automated organ-chip. This would reduce the complexity of the devices by simulating them over a three-dimensional projection.
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As organ-on-chip offers a wide range of utilities, many companies have started investing in this field. More investments are made for optimizing the organ-on-chip and dealing with multiple factors that can be added for this technology. This has significantly increased the market of organ-on-chip. Allied Market Research has estimated that the global organ-on-chip market would reach $170 million, growing at a CAGR of 63.2% by 2023. The increase in the application of organ-on-chip devices in the healthcare sector, surge in demand for lung & kidney-based organ culture devices, and growth in demand for organ-on-chips in drug screening drive the organ-on-chip market. However, the high costs of organ-on-chip devices and nascent stage in R&D pertaining to OOCs could retrain the market growth. On the other hand, an increase in research activities on organ-on-chip devices will create new opportunities for the market. The market for organ-on-chip has a huge potential and will grow at a steady pace as new medications and treatments are introduced to the field of medicine.
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