The Common Fund’s Regulatory Science program was a collaborative effort to accelerate the development and use of new tools, standards and approaches to efficiently develop medical products and to more effectively evaluate medical product safety, efficacy and quality. A major focus of the program was the development of cutting edge microphysiological systems (MPS), or “tissue chips”, to more accurately predict drug safety and efficacy in humans.
The initial phase of the program provided support for four new research awards in high priority areas of regulatory science, including adaptive clinical trial design, a novel strategy to predict eye irritancy, a heart-lung model to test the safety and efficacy of drugs, and nanoparticle characterization. (View the funded research)
In 2012, the NIH Common Fund and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke led the trans-NIH effort to establish the NIH Microphysiological Systems (MPS) (Tissue Chip for Drug Screening) program, which now is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The NIH Common Fund and NCATS Cures Acceleration Network provided most of the funding for the program, with several NIH Institutes and Centers also providing funds. This initiative also participated in collaborations that focused the resources and ingenuity of the NIH, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and FDA.
Several advanced MPS were developed with Common Fund support. Included in these advances are:
- An advanced liver-on-a-chip that includes multiple cell types which compared to less complex liver models more accurately reproduces liver function.
- Models of rare heart diseases such as LQT syndrome and Barth Syndrome in cardiac MPS.
- A kidney MPS that can model glucose uptake, kidney tissue damage, and blood clotting.
- Blood vessel systems that can dilate/contract, support immune cell transport, and vascularize other tissues-on-chips.
- Cancer models such as bone cancer and breast cancer metastases in liver.
A goal of the Regulatory Science program was to integrate multiple tissue chips into a functional system that could eventually be used to model complex human physiology. Towards this goal, several advances were made as a result of this program including:
- Functional coupling of the intestine, liver, kidney, blood-brain barrier and skeletal muscle tissue chips.
- A model of the human female reproductive system that can mimic the complete 28-day menstrual cycle.
- Multiple NIH-supported tissue chips integrated into the DARPA funded ten tissue platforms.
- Integration of the heart and lung tissue chips to model asthma.
- Integration of the intestinal and liver chips to study the role of organ interactions on breast cancer metastases.
This page last reviewed on January 18, 2018