Massachusetts Patent of the Month – May 2024

Emulate, Inc. is combining human biology and technology to bring a new level to human testing. Animal studies and reductionist models are inherently limited since they are not based on integrated human biology. In order to get better insights and broader understanding of a pharmaceutical or treatment, we need living human in vitro models to test on. Emulate is making this possible with a newly patented organ-chip production process.

An organ chip is a microfluidic device that cultures living cells in a micrometer-sized chamber. This chip allows researchers to model physiological functions of tissues and organs for real-life testing.

Their patented method uses induced pluripotent stem cell-derived (iPSC-derived) organoids in microfluidic devices. This breakthrough involves disaggregating iPSC-derived organoids into single cells, seeding them on a membrane within the device, and culturing them under dynamic flow conditions. This process supports the maturation and differentiation of the cells into various intestinal cell types, including foregut, midgut, and hindgut epithelial cells, as well as specialized cells like Paneth, endocrine, and goblet cells.

The technology’s capacity to simulate the formation of intestinal villi under flow conditions marks a significant advancement over traditional static culture methods. These dynamic flow conditions mimic the natural environment of the human intestine more accurately, leading to the development of more complex and functional tissue structures. By seeding different cell types on opposite surfaces of the membrane, the system can replicate the intricate cellular interactions found in the human gut.

This method has profound implications for medical research and drug development, particularly for studying gastrointestinal diseases and endocrine disruptions. For instance, the invention provides a platform to investigate how chronic low-dose exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) affects gut and hypothalamic cells during critical developmental periods. This approach can unveil the mechanisms by which EDCs contribute to conditions like obesity by disrupting metabolic homeostasis and feeding behavior through gut-brain interactions.

Emulate’s innovation enables the creation of personalized gut-on-chip models. By using iPSCs derived from patients with specific conditions, researchers can develop tailored disease models to study inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, and other gastrointestinal disorders. This personalized approach allows for more accurate testing of therapeutic interventions and a better understanding of disease pathology, ultimately paving the way for individualized treatment strategies.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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