Cedars-Sinai, Emulate team-up on a Patient-on-a-Chip program

Human Emulation System

Scientists at Cedars-Sinai and Emulate have developed what they claim is — and it obviously sounds like — a groundbreaking Patient-on-a-Chip program, which is designed to help predict which disease treatments would be most effective based on a patient’s genetic makeup and disease variant.

Here’s what’s it all about:

The collaboration leverages innovative stem cell science from the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute and Emulate’s Human Emulation System, which uses Organs-on-Chips technology to re-create true-to-life biology outside the body. This technology creates an environment where the cells exhibit an unprecedented level of biological function, and provides control of complex human biology and disease mechanisms not possible with existing techniques.

During the initial scientific findings, investigators from Cedars-Sinai and Emulate demonstrated how cells of a human intestinal lining created outside an individual’s body mirror living tissue when placed inside Emulate’s Intestine-Chips, opening the door to personalized testing of drug treatments.

In a practical use case, the technology would allow researchers to place a patient’s cells in Organ-Chips and expose them to a particular drug or series of drugs, providing clinicians with more accurate information about how that individual would respond to treatment.

“The medical potential of a Patient-on-a-Chip is extraordinary,” said Clive Svendsen, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute. “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.”

Cedars-Sinai and Emulate each have contributed integral components to the Patient-on-a-Chip program.

Cedars-Sinai scientists can harvest cells from the blood or skin of an individual and reprogram them into induced pluripotent stem cells, which can be made into any organ cell, each bearing the unique genetic fingerprint and characteristics of the person.

Emulate’s Human Emulation System — which is made up of Organs-on-Chips, instrumentation and software apps — re-creates the natural physiology cells experience within the body. Each chip, which is approximately the size of an AA battery, features tiny channels lined with tens of thousands of living human cells, recreating the smallest functional unit of an organ.

“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, Inc. “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.”

Looking into the future, a Patient-on-a-Chip also could be used to predict how a disease progresses in an individual, allowing for the design of personalized preventive medicine and treatment regimens to promote wellness and prevent disease. Additionally, there could be other applications, such as designing clinical trials to identify at-risk populations for adverse drug reactions.

“Cedars-Sinai’s world-class stem cell expertise and discovery, combined with Emulate’s pioneering Human Emulation System, is poised to reshape the future of medical care,” concluded Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, executive vice president, Academic Affairs, and dean of the medical faculty at Cedars-Sinai.