Organotypic and Microphysiological Human Tissue Models for Drug Discovery and Development-Current State-of-the-Art and Future Perspectives

Sonia Youhanna, Aurino M Kemas, Lena Preiss, Yitian Zhou, Joanne X Shen, Selgin D Cakal, Francesco S Paqualini, Sravan K Goparaju, Reza Zandi Shafagh, Johan Ulrik Lind, Carl M Sellgren, Volker M Lauschke*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The number of successful drug development projects has been stagnant for decades despite major breakthroughs in chemistry, molecular biology, and genetics. Unreliable target identification and poor translatability of preclinical models have been identified as major causes of failure. To improve predictions of clinical efficacy and safety, interest has shifted to three-dimensional culture methods in which human cells can retain many physiologically and functionally relevant phenotypes for extended periods of time. Here, we review the state of the art of available organotypic culture techniques and critically review emerging models of human tissues with key importance for pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and toxicity. In addition, developments in bioprinting and microfluidic multiorgan cultures to emulate systemic drug disposition are summarized. We close by highlighting important trends regarding the fabrication of organotypic culture platforms and the choice of platform material to limit drug absorption and polymer leaching while supporting the phenotypic maintenance of cultured cells and allowing for scalable device fabrication. We conclude that organotypic and microphysiological human tissue models constitute promising systems to promote drug discovery and development by facilitating drug target identification and improving the preclinical evaluation of drug toxicity and pharmacokinetics. There is, however, a critical need for further validation, benchmarking, and consolidation efforts ideally conducted in intersectoral multicenter settings to accelerate acceptance of these novel models as reliable tools for translational pharmacology and toxicology.

Organotypic and microphysiological culture of human cells has emerged as a promising tool for preclinical drug discovery and development that might be able to narrow the translation gap. This review discusses recent technological and methodological advancements and the use of these systems for hit discovery and the evaluation of toxicity, clearance, and absorption of lead compounds.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPharmacological Reviews
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)141-206
Number of pages66
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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