An Organ-On-Chip (OOC) is a multi-channel 3-D microfluidic cell culture chip that simulates the activities, mechanics and physiological response of entire organs and organ systems, a type of artificial organ. It constitutes the subject matter of significant biomedical engineering research, more precisely in bio-MEMS. The convergence of labs-on-chips (LOCs) and cell biology has permitted the study of human physiology in an organ-specific context, introducing a novel model of in vitro multicellular human organisms. One day, they will perhaps abolish the need for animals in drug development and toxin testing. Organ-On-Chip technology not only incorporates multiple cell types but also involves engineering aspects, such as the guided spatial confinement of cells or the incorporation of sensors and microfluidic channels.
The primary focus of Organ-On-Chip technology is the re-creation of three key aspects of human physiology: the multicellular vascular or epithelial interfaces of organs (for example, blood vessel networks, lung and gut), which function as barriers in tissues; the tissue-level organization of parenchymal cells (for example, liver, heart, skeletal muscle and tumours), which are responsible for the key functional properties of an organ; and the systematic interaction of multiple organs (for example, drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination involving the gut, circulation, liver and kidney).
In addition, the Blood-Brain Barrier is definitely more complex than a simple wall, controlling the passage of most solute that enters or leaves the brain. To address how this molecular sieve affects neural activity, some researchers have simulated the interaction between blood vessels and brain tissue on a series of interconnected "organ chips" when connected through this Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) model. Endothelial cells, pericytes, astrocytes and neurons alter their gene expression. These technologies will achieve even more rapid development and application.
Although, individual Organ-On-Chip technology has advanced considerably in the last decade, connecting multiple organs still presents a major step that needs development. Scaling laws become more challenging when simultaneously scaling for different interconnected organs at once in a microchip format, in addition, to scaling for dynamic controls such as the pumping heart, contracting/expanding of the lungs. Further complexity is added when interpreting systems biology interactions which are enormously challenging to understand and translate to in-vivo scenarios. Organ/human on chip technologies need scaling to reflect realistic physiology before they can replicate human organ functions in-vivo. Whilst organs-on-a chip engineering technologies are improving they are never likely to replicate millions of years of evolutionary engineering of human or even single organs. They should in the future be best viewed as simplified models for systems biology.
Overall, Organ-on-Chip is a fledgling industry. Most companies come from university laboratories and are in the stage of financing. Very few companies are commercialized and sold on a large scale. Although most of the companies trying to enter the industry are start-ups, many large companies (such as Johnson & Johnson) are eager to try because of their wide range of applications, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, agriculture and so on. The United States, UK, the Netherlands and France have given priority to occupying most of the markets. Relatively speaking, the overall market in Asia is relatively blank. It is expected that South Korea, Japan and Taiwan will accelerate the pace of research. Product types are still mainly concentrated in the liver, kidney, heart, blood vessels and so on. The company will continue to expand the scope of research, such as bone, muscle, nerve, skin and other organs.
According to QYResearch’s latest research, the global Organ-on-Chip market was valued at US$ 54.46 million in 2020 and will reach US$ 125.69 million by the end of 2026, growing at a CAGR of 13.46% during 2021-2026. Key companies include Emulate, TissUse, Hesperos, CN Bio Innovations, Tara Biosystems, Draper Laboratory, Mimetas, Nortis, Micronit Microtechnologies B.V., Kirkstall, Cherry Biotech SAS, Else Kooi Laboratory, etc. Of the major players of Organ-on-Chip, Emulate maintained its world’s largest position. Emulate accounted for 14.47% of the global Organ-on-Chip revenue market share in 2020.
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