Long-term collaborative research partnership continues to serve as successful biotechnology incubator for disruptive drug discovery and safety testing platforms and applications.
InSphero AG, a pioneer in 3D cell-based assay technology, and the Bio Engineering Laboratory of ETH Zurich, today announced that they have completed the licence agreement for InSphero’s Akura Flow organ-on-a-chip platform. Akura Flow is a commercially available “plug and play” microphysiological system (MPS), engineered to enable pharmaceutical and academic researchers to integrate 3D spheroid models in single- and multi-tissue organ networks for preclinical drug efficacy and toxicity testing applications.
InSphero has been testing and perfecting organ-on-a-chip solutions since 2011, when the company teamed up with the Bio Engineering Laboratory, AstraZeneca, and other leading academic groups as part of the European Commission-funded “Body on a Chip (BoC)” Project, which aimed to mimic the response of the human body as a whole to drugs for safety and efficacy testing. Working in collaboration, microfluidic experts at InSphero and the Bio Engineering Laboratory in Basel were able to refine early prototypes of BOC system and create higher-order solutions, suitable for industry applications, such as low-clearance assays, prodrug activation, and metabolic disease modeling. With the financial support of the Swiss Innovation Agency InnoSuisse, InSphero has since been working on commercialization of the Akura Flow platform to ensure operational robustness and trustworthy results demanded by the pharmaceutical industry. Akura Flow represents the first MPS technology to address important industry needs, such as simple and quick setup and the capability to automatically extract 3D microtissues from microfluidic device for downstream next-generation sequencing, histology, or other rich endpoints. It is compatible with all commonly used laboratory automation tools.
“This license agreement between ETH Zurich and InSphero marks the culmination of close to a decade of innovative bio engineering and integrative biomedical research efforts,” says InSphero Head of Technology and Platforms Olivier Frey, PhD, the principle architect of the Akura Flow platform, who also headed research projects conducted at ETH Zurich and served on the BOC project team. “Through our ongoing research collaborations with the ETH Zurich Bio Engineering Laboratory, led by Professor Andreas Hierlemann, we are able to break through 3D in vitro technology barriers to deliver better, safer 3Din vitro solutions that will help further our understanding of complex diseases and find cures faster.“