Microphysiological in vitro systems

Organ on a chip

Organ-on-a-Chip, also known as Organs-on-chips (OoCs) or microphysiological systems (MPS) are going to be a major focus of interest in the advancement of ‘more human’ in vitro platforms. In principle, chips are microfluidic device containing networks of hair-fine microchannels for guiding and manipulating minute volumes (picolitres up to millilitres) of solution.

With the aim of better mimicking human physiology, and using human iPSC derived cells, the chips are designed to control cell microenvironments and maintain tissue-specific functions.
This narrative logically follows on from the development from single cell 2D cell cultures, co-cultures, 3D cell cultures, organoids and now organ-on-a-chip

The FDA modernization act effect

The FDA modernization act specifically calls out “nonclinical tests” that will include human-relevant testing methods including organ-on chip models paving the way for great adoption in the drug development community.

At present, the market for organ-on-chip is a fluid one, with many different designs and methodologies. This is common in new technology areas and may appear very fluid. However, as seen so oft before, suppliers, users and regulators are actively collaborating and sharing best practice.


NETRI and Axol Bioscience recently announced a collaboration to develop organ-on-a-chip products utilising human iPSC derived cells.
Initially, this partnership will aim at offering three sets of models to their customers based on current applications using Axol Bioscience’s hiPSC-derived cells in NETRI’s microfluidic devices for:
• Peripheral nerve injury: using Axol Bioscience’s hiPSC-derived sensory and motor neurons with the axotomy capability of NETRI’s DuaLink Delta Ultra,
• Peripheral neuropathic pain: hiPSC-derived sensory neurons with chemically induced injuries in NETRI’s DuaLink MEA platform (MicroElectrode Array) powered by Axion Biosystems,
• Allodynia, nociceptive pain and sensitive skin syndrome: hiPSC and primary co-culture of sensory neurons and keratinocytes in NETRI’s DuaLink Ultra and DuaLink MEA to perform screening of reference compounds and electrophysiology readouts.
NETRI and Axol Bioscience will also engage in joint R&D framework programs to expand applications using Axol Bioscience’s hiPSC-derived cells in NETRI’s current and future devices:
• Neuromuscular junction: use of wild-type, genetically modified or patient cell models,
• Blood brain barrier: use of astrocytes and epithelial cells,
• Neuroinflammation: use of microglial cells to assess chemoattractant from distal to proximal inflammatory compartment,
• Huntington’s disease: use of cortical and striatal cells.

Learn more


• Leung, C.M., de Haan, P., Ronaldson-Bouchard, K. et al. A guide to the organ-on-a-chip. Nat Rev Methods Primers 2, 33 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43586-022-00118-6