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Organ-on-Chip: Transforming Drug Development with Innovate in India

By

Heer Shukla

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4 minutes read

Time is of the essence, particularly in the development of life-saving drugs. Modern biological technologies, such as Organ-on-Chips (OoCs), could expedite research & development by facilitating    accurate, reliable, high-throughput, and human-relevant screenings of potential drug candidates in laboratories. Ultimately, they may save the industry millions of dollars in the long run. Therefore, they represent a paradigm shift in medical research. 

Failures of animal experiments serve as a poignant reminder of the limitations inherent in the traditional approach. Unlike these however, OoCs are built with living human cells, capturing the intricacies of human physiology in a way that animal models cannot. Through the creation of human organs on a microscopic chip, researchers have precise control over the microenvironment of cells on chips, allowing them to replicate complex organ-level functions. This level of control facilitates more accurate and reproducible experiments. This means more possibilities tested faster, bringing hope to patients awaiting cures and bringing treatments closer to reality. 

Education and Training

In the spirit of transformative change, the Center for Predictive Human Model Systems (CPHMS) in India launched a ‘Microphysiological Systems Bootcamp’ in December 2023. This three-part training programme aims to address existing gaps in training and equip the workforce with essential skills to navigate the intricacies of Microphysiological Systems (MPS). The launch of the MPS Bootcamp demonstrates a commitment to building a skilled workforce, while the recognition and promotion of successful use cases signal a promising future for healthcare in India. This calls for active participation in global discussions, ensuring that India contributes meaningfully to the evolution of humane and effective healthcare research methodologies.

Policy

One significant development in the United States, particularly in Maryland in May 2023, marked a groundbreaking move as the state mandated that animal-testing laboratories allocate funds to support non-animal research. This pioneering step underscores the need for a global examination of policies, signalling a potential shift that could redefine the trajectory of healthcare landscapes worldwide.

Policies such as these are necessary in the Indian context to bring attention to the field of non-animal and human-relevant methods. 

Entrepreneurship

In India, the field of animal alternatives is currently marked by a noticeable lack of entrepreneurship, posing a stark contrast to the United States, which boasts a thriving ecosystem of at least 20 service providers specialising in advanced organoid and organ-on-a-chip models. 

The pertinent question arises: which among these providers holds the key to achieving the coveted ‘human-on-a-chip’? Active participation in these crucial conversations is imperative for India to play a role in shaping the future of healthcare.  India is at a juncture where addressing the entrepreneurial deficit in animal alternatives and reevaluating policies are critical.

According to Precision Reports Insights, the global Organ-On-Chip market is projected to reach USD 487 million by 2028 from an estimated USD 88 million in 2022, at a CAGR of 33.0% during 2023 and 2028. 

Some of the regions that are leading the Organ-On-Chip market are:

  • North America (United States, Canada and Mexico)
  • Europe (Germany, UK, France, Italy, Russia and Turkey etc.)
  • Asia-Pacific (China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam)
  • South America (Brazil, Argentina, Columbia etc.)
  • Middle East and Africa (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa)

A Collaborative Call to Action

In a report by NASSCOM, the focus shifts to the pivotal role of private investors in shaping the trajectory of Organ-on-a-Chip startups highlighting the importance of angel investors in the biotech sector, emphasising their potential to act as catalysts for early-stage startups. These visionary individuals can provide not just financial support but invaluable mentorship and guidance, propelling Organ-on-a-Chip innovations toward success.

The report stresses the need for specialised venture capital funds dedicated to early-stage biotech startups. These funds bring domain expertise and a nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities unique to the biotech landscape. We can create a robust ecosystem that nurtures innovation, facilitates collaboration, and accelerates the journey from concept to application.

For angel investors and venture capital funds, this is an opportunity to empower startups at their inception. Your support goes beyond funding—it’s a catalyst for pioneering advancements that can reshape the future of healthcare.

As we stand at the intersection of technology and healthcare, Organs-on-Chips provide more accurate, ethical, and impactful drug development. However, their journey from innovation to implementation hinges on financial support. By exploring various funding opportunities, connecting with potential backers, and understanding the critical role of angel investors, we can collectively fuel the future of Organs-on-Chips and usher in a new era of medical research. 

 


About India Animal Fund

India Animal Fund (IAF) is a backbone organisation to help incubate, streamline and align the efforts of NGOs in the Animal Justice space in India. IAF is also India’s first fund-raising platform to encourage effective giving for the animals. The platform aims to bring together high-value donors, highly efficient NGOs and a long-term, solution- based mindset to reduce animal suffering.

IAF is founded by a group of Corporate & Animal Justice leaders with a century of combined experience and a passion to help the most vulnerable. IAF has been endorsed by several prominent personalities in India including his Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mr. Ratan Tata, Mr. Amitabh Kant, Mr. Rajiv Memani, Mr. Satish Reddy, Mr. Suresh Narayanan & several other corporate leaders.

IAF had a grand launch on Oct 30th, 2022, in a two-hour telethon on NDTV hosted by Dr Prannoy Roy with several national and international celebrities appearing on the show, backing the cause and IAF. The telethon can be viewed here. More details are available on our website.

References

A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training

Author

Heer Shukla

Sr. Lead, Retail Campaigns

Heer Shukla is a seasoned professional holding a Six Sigma Black Belt certification from KPMG with a diverse 17-year corporate journey. Her comprehensive oversight of teams and projects includes key areas such as credit recovery, fraud prevention, process improvement, and risk forecasting., Heer now oversees a key role in the Indian Animal Fund team, spearheading retail campaigns, and contributes to content and media insights. Outside the corporate world, Heer has always been passionate about animal welfare and advocacy. She is currently pursuing the Ahimsa Fellowship with the People for Animals Public Policy Foundation and is working towards an advanced diploma in Animal Welfare Law at Nalsar University.

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