These microchips are one of the most exciting areas of scientific research as they have the distinguishing characteristic of emulating the human micro environment in vitro. This unique feature of OOCs is made possible by integrating biology with advanced engineering technologies.
OOCs have potential applications in many major industries including pharmaceutical, agriculture, agrochemicals, chemicals, consumer goods, cosmetics, food and beverages and nutraceuticals, as well as for research. Currently the pharmaceutical industry is dominant in leveraging this technology. The immediate need in the pharmaceutical industry for OOCs is in preclinical testing of drugs. The technology also shows significant potential for drug screening and lead optimization and in fact for use in every aspect of drug discovery and development. Other important potential healthcare applications of OOCs include disease modelling, patient stratification, phenotypic screening and personalized health.
OOC technology is still in an initial stage. The players in the market are basically university spinoffs involved in the commercialization of OOC prototypes developed in the universities. They are few in number. The key players include Emulate, CN-Bio, Mimetas, TissUse, Hurel and Nortis. Currently OOCs are marketed primarily through sales agreements with end users that involve collaboration of both parties in tailoring the OOCs to meet the end user's requirements.
The global market for OOC devices was valued at $31.5 million in 2015 and is expected to grow at a rapid compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 70% to 2020. Up to 2018 the OOC market is expected to rise at this high CAGR due to an increase in number of collaborative sales agreements between the pharmaceutical companies and university spin-offs and the entry of new advanced models of OOC devices into the market. The anticipated launch of humans-on-chips in 2018 will further increase the growth rate from 2018.
Further improvements in the design and manufacture of OOCs will probably replace animal models as subjects in preclinical drug evaluations in future. Overall, they have the potential to break an impasse in in-vitro drug discovery and development.
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