Organs-on-chips at the frontiers of drug discovery

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2015 Apr;14(4):248-60. doi: 10.1038/nrd4539. Epub 2015 Mar 20.


Improving the effectiveness of preclinical predictions of human drug responses is critical to reducing costly failures in clinical trials. Recent advances in cell biology, microfabrication and microfluidics have enabled the development of microengineered models of the functional units of human organs - known as organs-on-chips - that could provide the basis for preclinical assays with greater predictive power. Here, we examine the new opportunities for the application of organ-on-chip technologies in a range of areas in preclinical drug discovery, such as target identification and validation, target-based screening, and phenotypic screening. We also discuss emerging drug discovery opportunities enabled by organs-on-chips, as well as important challenges in realizing the full potential of this technology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Drug Discovery / trends*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drug Industry / trends
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Rare Diseases