Organs-on-chips market could grow to AU$155.8m

By LabOnline Staff
Thursday, 20 April, 2017

Currently worth a few million dollars, the emerging organs-on-chips market could grow between 38% and 57% and reach AU$79.91m to AU$155.8m by 2022, predicts research and consulting company Yole Developpement (Yole).

At this stage, very few players are in production and commercialisation phase. Most companies are spin-offs from universities’ labs and are currently improving their organs-on-chips models through an iterative process with industrial players. Pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies are eager to test different organs-on-chips solutions to assess which technology is best suited to which type of experiment, but they are conservative and will need time to widely adopt the technology.

Depending on the speed of adoption, and the ability of organs-on-chips companies to overcome technical challenges and to upscale production, the market could grow significantly, according to the analysts.

“Bringing a new drug to market is one of the longest and most costly paths any industry has to walk. Companies start with several thousands of compounds that may have positive effects against a disease or a human condition. More than 12 years and several billion dollars later, if they’re lucky they managed to get one of these compounds onto the market. All the others failed at one stage or another during the drug development process — and the later the failure, the more expensive it is.

“Current methods — cell culture in petri dishes and animal testing among others — are not predictive enough. Around 90% of drugs that have been validated on these models then fail during clinical trials because of toxicity or lack of efficacy. The pharmaceutical industry therefore needs more predictive tools to make drug candidates fail earlier and cheaper.

“Other industries where toxicity testing is a major concern, such as cosmetics, agro-food and consumer goods, also need such solutions, in particular because animal testing is now banned for these industries in certain geographical areas. Several options have been envisioned, the most promising of which is certainly organs-on-chips.

As a sign of confidence in this technology, significant funding has been allocated to organs-on-chips developers: DARPA and the NIH respectively awarded $140m and $76m over 5-year periods to support developments. In parallel, technology developers have raised more than $80m since 2012 with investors.

Ethical concerns

Ethical concerns are also at the heart of this market: more than one hundred million animals are used in laboratory experiments worldwide every year, and could be replaced by pieces of microfluidic technology. But will this happen? Increased media coverage and significant enthusiasm from the technology developers should not hide the significant barriers to technology adoption.

Meanwhile, industry and governmental agencies have placed huge expectations on a few developers of organs-on-chips technologies which were awarded substantial funding. In this report, you will find an analysis of what the consequences could be for the whole industry if these players were to fail. However, it is likely that the investments will continue, with large pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies starting to use organs-on-chips. L’Oréal, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Roche and Sanofi, among others, already have partnerships with organs-on-chips developers and believe the technology will change the efficacy and toxicology testing landscapes for both existing products and those under development.

Challenges still to be addressed

Despite the great promises made by organs-on-chips technology, we are still far from seeing wide adoption by the industry and several major technical challenges still need to be addressed. First, the ability to successfully connect together several organs to accurately mimic whole body response to a drug has to be demonstrated.

Several companies are working on multiorgan models but a whole, functioning ‘body on a chip’ is still far from being a reality. In order to address various needs, organs-on-chips players are diversifying their offerings across different types of organs, types of devices and flow management.

In the report, Yole’s analysts propose a technical segmentation based on key criteria in function of the drug development stages to be addressed, along with insights about the main technical limitations which today prevent the wide adoption of organs-on-chips technologies. One of the main issues will be upscaling production from a few devices per week or per month to bigger volumes in line with the reality of market demand. Indeed, few companies have already thought about upscaling production and the associated material shifts and/or required redesign phases. Most organs-on-chips rely on microfluidic technologies, meaning that microfluidic foundries will increasingly receive requests from start-ups looking for manufacturing partners. Some of these foundries have even started to propose tailored approaches for organs-on-chips, underlining they identified a great potential in this area. Last but not least, standardisation and compatibility with existing equipment will be a major criteria for wide adoption of organs-on-chips — although technology developers show greater awareness on this point.

The Organs-On-Chips 2017 report presents a comprehensive understanding of the current technology limits and how it may evolve in the coming years. It also makes a focus on organ-on-chip technical aspects (source of cells, different types of platforms, importance of pumping systems, materials and manufacturing techniques…) and provides comprehensive market overview. A detailed description of this report is available on, MedTech reports section.

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