Technology is being developed as alternative to animal testing.
While the use of animals to evaluate many properties of pharmaceutical candidates has been key to the development of drugs for many years, the practice raises ethical questions. In addition, in many cases the correlation of the results of these tests with the results observed in humans is often limited. Consequently, there is a desire to find animal-free alternatives.
Massachusetts-based company. Emulate, is developing alternative testing technology that has attracted the attention of investors. Its Human Emulation System comprising organs-on-a-chip, instrumentation and software applications can be used to predict human responses following exposure to different, therapies, chemicals and foods, as well as to various diseases. According to the company, because human cell are used to represent human physiology, the technology provides better results than cell culture and animal testing methods.
Emulate recently raised $36 million in a Series C funding round led by Founders Fund and including ALS Investment Fund, SciFi VC, GlassWall Syndicate Association and existing investors.
The money will be used to add biological capabilities to its Liver-Chip, Intestine-Chip, Lung-Chip, and Brain-Chip, and to its human-relevant models of thrombosis and immune system modulation. The goal of the company is to have its technology used for all stages of drug discovery and development. Organ-on-a-chip systems are attractive as alternatives to animal testing because they have the potential to provide improved precision for preclinical testing.
Emulate has also signed a number of deals with leading pharmaceutical companies in 2018, including Roche and AstraZeneca, which have signed agreements to improve the prediction of human safety and efficacy testing and reduce the use of animals. The US Food and Drug Administration is also evaluating Emulate's Liver-Chip as a test for chemical and microbiological hazards in food, dietary supplements and cosmetics.