New study of tissue chips establishes ‘blueprint’ for technology transfer

Illustration: Melissa Butcher, Research Communications

Microphysiological systems, also known as tissue chips, are a relatively new technology that have the potential to significantly impact the drug development process, as well as drug and chemical safety testing. However, adoption of these chips by industry and regulatory agencies has been slow due to a lack of confidence in the reliability and relevance of these models outside of their developer’s laboratories.

In the first National Institutes of Health-funded study on tissue chip testing, researchers in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences have taken measures to close that gap by completing an exhaustive, independent testing of the chips’ robustness and reproducibility.

Led by Courtney Sakolish, a postdoctoral trainee in toxicology, under the guidance of Ivan Rusyn, professor in the college’s Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences and principal investigator of the project, the study details the results of an investigation of tissue chip technology transfer and the reproducibility of tissue chip-derived data.

The research, “Technology Transfer of the Microphysiological Systems: A Case Study of the Human Proximal Tubule Tissue Chip,” was published in the online journal Scientific Reports. The study evaluated the kidney tissue chips developed by the University of Washington School of Pharmacy and Kidney Research Institute.

“Tissue chips have a lot of future applications, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, but we don’t really hear about any drugs being tested using these tissue chips because there really is not a lot of confidence in the use of these technologies just yet,” Sakolish said. “Our project worked on building confidence in the use of these models by extensively evaluating them.”

The final report establishes the reliability of the new test methods, defines the domain of applicability for these technologies, describes how test results should be interpreted in terms of a positive or negative response, and develops performance standards for the evaluation of relevant adverse outcomes.

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