The administration, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) of pharmaceutical therapeutics involve multiple organs as the compounds are utilized and processed by various cell types. Drugs targeting the brain are metabolized by the gut and liver and then cleared by the kidney as they flow through the body. Brain-targeting drugs that require direct interaction with the organ need to be able to pass through the blood-brain barrier.
Culturing cell types from multiple organs in a single platform can be difficult due to the cells needing specific, controlled environments for optimal growth. Current culturing systems can be highly controlled but are static, not mimicking the physiological conditions of the organs in vivo. This also limits each cell from reaching in vivo-like morphology and forming tissue due to the lack of cell-to-cell communication.
Biomimetic models like the organ chip provide a three-dimensional microphysiological platform to culture multiple cell types that form organ-like structures. Dynamic fluid flow adds an environmental parameter that promotes cells to perform in vivo functionalities that would otherwise be limited in static, two-dimensional culture systems. The movement of compounds from organ to organ, and even barrier to barrier, can be assessed in an in vitro model that is translatable to in vivo studies.