Industry News: CN Bio expands service offering to support oncology drug discovery

This new oncology service supports unique in vitro investigations into the PK/PD relationship

05 Oct 2021


CN Bio, a leading organ-on-a-chip company (OOC) that designs and manufactures single- and multi-organ microphysiological systems (MPS), has announced the commercial launch of its Oncology Service in response to the global need to improve cancer drug discovery approval rates.

Understanding the relationship between pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) and efficacy is critical to the successful development of new medicines, but at present this relationship is primarily investigated using animal models – a process that is time-consuming, ethically undesirable and prone to a lack of translation. This contributes to the low success rate of oncology medicines in the clinic. Expanding CN Bio’s portfolio, the Oncology Service provides a unique means to explore these relationships in vitro, offering a new approach to accelerate the development of cancer therapeutics.

Despite the advancement of in vitro models, the ability of existing approaches to mimic the dynamic drug concentrations found in the human body is limited, with none currently able to recreate PK profiles and investigate their effect on cells and tissues. CN Bio’s Oncology Service addresses this gap in research by enabling researchers to create human and animal PK profiles and apply them to 3D tumour models and organoids. 

Harnessing novel technology licensed from the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education (VIIBRE), led by Professor John Wikswo, the proprietary PhysioMimix™ PK system exposes 3D tumour models to in vivo-like profiles by periodically changing the drug concentration in the well. This feature is not currently possible in standard in vitro experiments as the concentration is fixed.

Offering significant time and cost savings, the service enables customers to study dose combinations and schedules which previously required large and expensive xenograft studies. In doing so, the new Oncology Service aims to support improved oncology drug discovery success rates and facilitate precision medicine using patient cells.

Dr Tomasz Kostrzewski, Director of Biology, CN Bio, said: “The expansion of CN Bio’s service offering to support oncology studies amplifies the breadth of solutions we provide into a critical area of research, that hasn’t been possible before. The Service supports scientists to decide with greater confidence which projects to invest in, in a fraction of the time and cost of comparable approaches, giving a marked competitive edge, whilst demonstrating our continued focus on driving innovation within the Life Sciences.”

Dr David Hughes, CEO, CN Bio, commented: “Ninety percent of drugs entering phase 1 trials fail, often due to a lack of efficacy, and consequently resulting in billions wasted in R&D costs. There is certainly a concerted move towards replacing the use of animal models in drug discovery, as illustrated by the recent vote in the EU parliament. CN Bio’s Oncology Service supports this movement by evidencing how the technology better recapitulates scenarios in vivo, to reduce reliability on conventional testing models.”

Professor John Wikswo, Director, Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education (VIIBRE), added: “Oncology drug discovery is a fantastic application of our technology. I am thrilled by the CN Bio team’s elegant translation of my group’s work to a commercial service; demonstrating the possibility to use microfluidic pumps and valves to impose different pharmacokinetic profiles across each well of a multi-well plate. Many of us within this field predict the PhysioMimix™ PK system and Oncology Service will be a disruptive technology that will accelerate cancer therapeutic development, reduce the number of failed or wrongly-dismissed drugs, and help to eliminate animals from the drug-development pipeline.”

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