Organ-on-Chip (OoC) is a game-changing approach in which human cells are cultured in microfluidic chips simulating and predicting the response of healthy and diseased human tissues. OoC has the potential to revolutionize today’s biomedical testing procedures that often involve ethically challenged animal testing and, most importantly, lead to variable results. Despite its promise, OoC adoption is hampered by profound technical and functional limitations. In this multidisciplinary program, engineers and biomedical researchers join forces with 25 end users to overcome these limitations by developing a novel, Standardized, open and Modular OoC Approach to Recapitulate Tissues (“SMART OoC”).

We will develop and integrate (1) a standardized microfluidic SMART docking plate into which chip modules can be plugged; (2) technical chip modules for microfluidic actuation and sensing; (3) readout technologies for multiparameter monitoring; and (4) prototype tissue chip modules with 3D organ architectures and integrated tissue microenvironment. We will (5) demonstrate functionality of the SMART OoC models by inducing inflammation and testing drugs.

Our SMART OoC provides a conceptually novel solution for pharmaceutical, food, chemical and cosmetics industries’ urgent need for physiologically relevant human models to identify, test efficacy and screen safety of new drugs, chemicals and cosmetics. End user adoption of SMART OoC will be accelerated due to its compatibility with automated workflows and large-scale manufacturability. As a result, the SMART OoC will have strong economic impact on these multi-billion industries. Moreover, it will contribute to improving diagnostics and therapies, while reducing health care costs, animal testing, and – eventually – improving quality of life for all.