Navigating tissue chips from development to dissemination: A pharmaceutical industry perspective

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2017 Oct;242(16):1579-1585. doi: 10.1177/1535370217715441. Epub 2017 Jun 16.


Tissue chips are poised to deliver a paradigm shift in drug discovery. By emulating human physiology, these chips have the potential to increase the predictive power of preclinical modeling, which in turn will move the pharmaceutical industry closer to its aspiration of clinically relevant and ultimately animal-free drug discovery. Despite the tremendous science and innovation invested in these tissue chips, significant challenges remain to be addressed to enable their routine adoption into the industrial laboratory. This article describes the main steps that need to be taken and highlights key considerations in order to transform tissue chip technology from the hands of the innovators into those of the industrial scientists. Written by scientists from 13 pharmaceutical companies and partners at the National Institutes of Health, this article uniquely captures a consensus view on the progression strategy to facilitate and accelerate the adoption of this valuable technology. It concludes that success will be delivered by a partnership approach as well as a deep understanding of the context within which these chips will actually be used. Impact statement The rapid pace of scientific innovation in the tissue chip (TC) field requires a cohesive partnership between innovators and end users. Near term uptake of these human-relevant platforms will fill gaps in current capabilities for assessing important properties of disposition, efficacy and safety liabilities. Similarly, these platforms could support mechanistic studies which aim to resolve challenges later in development (e.g. assessing the human relevance of a liability identified in animal studies). Building confidence that novel capabilities of TCs can address real world challenges while they themselves are being developed will accelerate their application in the discovery and development of innovative medicines. This article outlines a strategic roadmap to unite innovators and end users thus making implementation smooth and rapid. With the collective contributions from multiple international pharmaceutical companies and partners at National Institutes of Health, this article should serve as an invaluable resource to the multi-disciplinary field of TC development.

Keywords: Tissue chips; innovation; microphysiological systems; partnership; pharmacokinetics; toxicology.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods*
  • Drug Industry
  • Humans
  • Lab-On-A-Chip Devices
  • Microchip Analytical Procedures / methods*
  • Microfluidics / methods*