• Potomac Photonics
  • July 07, 2022

​​​​Potomac Accelerates Drug Development

​​​​Potomac Accelerates Drug Development

With Organ-on-Chip Technology Innovations

In today’s fast-paced world, getting new drugs to market quickly is the holy grail of the pharmaceutical industry. While the urgency of the Coronavirus pandemic was a driver for many drug companies’ commercialization strategies, every firm in the industry needs to generate revenue as quickly as possible in order to recoup their super high R&D investment.

Potentially, new technology will exponentially accelerate the drug development process and provide the most accurate personalized care to patients. How can microfluidic devices help expedite this important product to market? Through Organ-on-chip technology! 

Drug Development

Drug development is notorious for being a very slow and expensive lab bench to market journey. The cost to create a brand-new drug is roughly $3 billion dollars from start to finish. This includes verifying proof of concept, prototyping, testing in the lab, and then the often years-long FDA approval process. FDA requires animal and human trials to prove efficacy which are one of the slowest steps in the development of new pharmaceuticals.

Another barrier to market entry is that drugs are traditionally tested on animals before allowing them to advance to clinical trials. This raises questions about the ethical perspective of animal rights beyond the practicality and high cost. While animals and humans may be similar biologically, they may have different reactions to drugs. A drug that is toxic to animals may not be toxic to humans, and vice versa.

It is immediately clear that this slow, exhaustive, and expensive process is not a sustainable method for the future of medicine. For these reasons, big pharma companies and startups alike are turning to Organ-on-chips to speed the drug discovery, R&D, regulatory agency approvals, and commercialization of life-saving medicines.

What Are Organ-On-Chips? 

Organ-on-chips essentially mimic human physiology and specific organ function on a micro scale providing faster, cheaper, more practical tools for drug development. Functionally, the small channels of a microfluidic device are lined with human organ and blood vessel cells that are designed to control cell microenvironments and maintain specific functions of an organ’s tissue. Then drug interactions can be induced with results very close to animal or human experimental results.

Organ-on-chips eliminate the ethical issue of animal testing and the resulting high cost of testing drugs, partially due to the small scale of the experiment but perhaps more importantly the fast speed of microfluidics processes. Studies at leading research institutes and universities are demonstrating that brain, liver, heart, kidney, and lung On-A-Chip experiments are the future of drug development.

Potomac Accelerates Organ-On-Chip Potential

The inherent capabilities of Organ-On-Chip technology vastly improve drug development, but Potomac’s rapid prototyping and high-volume production skills further accelerate a Pharma company’s ability to quickly iterate a design to ensure fast time to market.

Hedi Leonard, a Program Manager at Potomac, succinctly captures our customer interaction:

 “Our customers do the biology, we do the manufacturing to make their experiments succeed”. This kind of interactive relationship ensures that we are able to meet customer demands technically but also with fast turnaround times while maintaining highest levels of quality assurance.

Potomac strives to be a true enabling technology for biotech companies using tools like microfluidics so that we can help lead the world to a new generation of medicines that save human lives.

Check out this video related to our microfluidic program below:


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