3. Bioengineering enables more than we ever thought possible for immune-oncology.
With the advent of bioengineered tissue platforms, scientists have a new world of opportunities for modeling human pathophysiology and for testing drug efficacy and safety. This was the subject of a presentation given by Kacey Ronaldson-Bouchard, Ph.D., an associate research scientist at Columbia University, who spoke about her team's newly developed biomimetic InterOrgan platform.
In this platform, matured human tissues are connected such that all organs retain their distinct functionalities. While each tissue is cultured in its own optimized environment, the whole is integrated through a recirculating vascular flow with monocytes by a matured and selectively permeable endothelial barrier.
Over four weeks of culturing, the differentiated yet integrated tissues maintained their molecular, structural, and functional phenotypes, indicating their potential durability and reliability in immune-oncology applications.
That said, just because you can engineer and build it, doesn't mean you should. As Dr. Ronaldson-Bouchard cautions:
"You should always be cognizant of what the end goal is and then design your organoid-on-chip to meet that goal," she said. "You're always balancing engineering and complexity because you want a robust model that can give you reproducible results, but you also want it to be physiologically complex. [Figure] out how complex you need it, and then involve patient-specific predictions using patient cells to do drug screening and disease modeling to try to find the best drug for you."