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Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2012 Aug;8(8):999-1014. doi: 10.1517/17425255.2012.693161. Epub 2012 May 26.

Organotypic systems in drug metabolism and toxicity: challenges and opportunities.

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HemoShear LLC, Liver Surrogate Systems, 1115 5th Street SW, Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA.



The frequent failure of high-throughput screening cell-based tools to accurately predict in vivo responses, coupled with limitations of animal models in predicting human safety or drug efficacy, impairs the de-risking process for biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies as they make important decisions to enter human clinical trials. Organotypic systems strive to fill the gap between these screening and in vivo studies and provide a solution.


The authors examine the various approaches to recreate physiological response on the bench and trace the evolution of organotypic systems, while discussing intrinsic challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Furthermore, they cite literature that is the foundation of several biotechnology research companies addressing this issue and discuss major government-funded initiatives to aid the development of these systems in an effort to fill this existing gap.


Decisions from translational systems that bridge basic drug efficacy and toxicity with clinical outcome must be benchmarked against human-relevant endpoints and clinical data for early meaningful pre-clinical decisions. The use of human primary cells coupled with emerging technologies that allow precise control of the culture environment and analysis of meaningful endpoints paves the way for human organotypic systems as a major initiative in de-risking the drug discovery and development process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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