Accelerating drug discovery via organs-on-chips
Considerable advances have been made in the development of micro-physiological systems that seek to faithfully replicate the complexity and functionality of animal and human physiology in research laboratories. Sometimes referred to as “organs-on-chips”, these systems provide key insights into physiological or pathological processes associated with health maintenance and disease control, and serve as powerful platforms for new drug development and toxicity screening. In this Focus article, we review the state-of-the-art designs and examples for developing multiple “organs-on-chips”, and discuss the potential of this emerging technology to enhance our understanding of human physiology, and to transform and accelerate the drug discovery and preclinical testing process. This Focus article highlights some of the recent technological advances in this field, along with the challenges that must be addressed for these technologies to fully realize their potential.