Patient-on-a-Chip Program Could Benefit Parkinson’s Patients by Pinpointing Effective Treatment

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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Credit: EMULATE, Inc.

A new personalized medical strategy that can replicate human biological systems in a small chip may help predict patients’ response to certain treatments based on their genetic makeup.

Called Patient-on-a-Chip, the joint initiative by Cedars-Sinai and Emulate combines Cedars scientists’ expertise in stem cell technology with Emulate’s Human Emulation System, which uses Organs-on-Chips technology to re-create true-to-life biology in a chip roughly the size of an AA battery.

To simulate the complex environment inside the human body, each chip has small channels lined with thousands of living human cells. The chip can receive air and fluids, such as blood, to create a microenvironment that mimics that of the human body.

Using stem cell expertise, researchers can take patients’ blood or skin cells and make any organ cell, such as those of a lung, liver or intestine. Most importantly, these cells retain the unique genetic makeup of the patient.

Several practical clinical applications of this technology can be used to benefit patients. By exposing patients’ cells in Organ-Chips to certain therapies, clinicians can gain more accurate information about how a patient would respond and could then tailor a treatment plan to that individual.

“The medical potential of a Patient-on-a-Chip is extraordinary,” Clive Svendsen, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute, said in a press release. “As examples, scientists could use Organs-on-Chips to create a living model of a patient with Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Crohn’s disease, a debilitating inflammatory bowel disorder linked to several gene mutations. By flowing drugs through Organ-Chips containing the patient’s own cells and tissue, we could predict which treatment is most beneficial for that patient.”

“By creating a personalized Patient-on-a-Chip, we can really begin to understand how diseases, medicines, chemicals and foods affect an individual’s health,” said Geraldine A. Hamilton, PhD, president and chief scientific officer of Emulate. “The goal of Emulate working with Cedars-Sinai is to advance and qualify the system for new clinical applications and ultimately democratize the technology so that it can have broad impact on patient healthcare.”

A study published last year in the journal Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology used Emulate’s Organs-on-Chips technology to re-create human intestinal complexity in this small chip.

The study, “Intestine-Chip: A New Model to Understand the Role of the Intestinal Epithelium in IBD by Combining Microengineering Technology and IPSC-Derived Human Intestinal Organoids,” yielded promising data on how organs may respond to different treatments and how the chip could help avoid subjecting the patient to unnecessary and potentially ineffective treatments.

“This project is an important initiative of Cedars-Sinai Precision Health, whose goal is to drive the development of the newest technology and best research, coupled with the finest clinical practice, to rapidly enable a new era of personalized health,” said Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, executive vice president of academic affairs and dean of the medical faculty at Cedars-Sinai.

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