CN Bio, a developer of single and multi-organ microphysiological systems (MPS), otherwise known as organ-on-a-chip, has received a grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to develop human-relevant MPS to advance investigations into SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The funding will be used to develop and test advanced cell culture models that represent different regions of the lung and subsequently linking these models to other organ systems, such as liver and gut, to inform the rapid development of novel therapeutics.
The fast-moving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic directs additional pressure onto current drug discovery and development processes, which can be limited by misrepresentative in vivo models that cause a large proportion of new medicines to fail when taken to clinical trials. To circumvent this, CN Bio is developing single and multi-organ COVID-19 models to investigate virology and immunology throughout the body, with a prolonged viable cell culture time for extended studies.
To further improve translatability of the COVID-19 infected lung culture, the 3D model will enable researchers to create an organotypic air-liquid interface, which has more utility than the current organoid approach, in which cilia within the structure make it difficult to study viral infection. The information obtained from the MPS will support researchers across the globe to better understand the infection, and consequently develop medicines with improved accuracy and efficiency prior to reaching clinical stages.
The single and multi-organ COVID-19 lung and lung-liver models will be developed specifically for use with the PhysioMimixTM lab-benchtop microphysiological system, a plug-and-play solution for automating small scale organ-on-a-chip assays. These features will enable the models to be rapidly shared with collaborators, to allow them to be further validated and incorporated into current research streams working to develop the next generation of therapeutics to treat and prevent COVID-19.
Dr Tomasz Kostrzewski, Director, Biology, CN Bio, said: “Through Innovate UK’s recognition of our technology’s potential, CN Bio is proud to be working on an additional COVID-19 project, to support the global effort in tackling the pandemic. This funding will enable us to develop and evaluate humanised single and multi-organ lung models, with the aim of deploying these to researchers investigating COVID-19 infection and immunology, and ultimately strengthen the fight against the spread of the virus.”