“Intestine-on-a-chip” research

This research theme builds on the concept of “organs-on-chips” and aims to develop an advanced in vitro microfluidic model of the intestine epithelium. Our “intestine-on-a-chip” technology is designed to mimic the characteristic features of the intestinal epithelium relevant to the uptake and transport of drugs and particulate carriers.

While animal studies are the current gold-standard for assessing the efficacy of oral drug delivery systems, they raise ethical issues, are resource and time consuming, and more importantly, provide only limited mechanistic understanding.There is a global effort worldwide to develop advanced in vitro models based on the integration of engineering and cell biology. This is evidenced in the U.S. by the major funding committed by the NIH to support “organs-on-chip” technology for drug development and testing. “The development of tissue chips is a remarkable marriage of biology and engineering, and has the potential to transform preclinical testing of candidate treatments, providing valuable tools for biomedical research,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

Following on the pioneering work at the University of Tokyo, with whom we are collaborating on this project, a number of research groups have demonstrated the utility of the “intestine-on-chip” concept, including the Wyss Institute at Harvard University.

Our “intestine-on-a-chip” in vitro model is  currently being used to systematically investigate the trans-epithelium uptake and transport of nano and micro-particulate carriers targeted (and non-targeted) to either M cells or enterocytes, towards elucidating their structure-functions.

The fundamental knowledge generated through this research will ultimately enable our partner Ceramisphere ltd pty to develop the next generation of particulate carriers for the oral delivery of biologics.