Client
A biotech company specializing in developing “organ-on-a-chip” technology
Industry
Biotech
Services
Software Development
Tech
I2C, SPI, SD, Cariad, MQTT, TLS, Mbed, Go 1.16, Echo, Jenkins, AWS services

Challenge

Drug development is an arduous process. It can cost from $10 million to $2 billion and take more than 10 years to get a new drug approved after clinical trials. Part of the problem is the inefficiency of animal tests that remain the gold standard in pharmaceutical development. Up to 90% of drugs approved for human use after passing animal tests fail in human trials because humans and animals have different physiologies. A leading biotech company wanted to revolutionize the space, seeing a big promise in organ-on-a-chip technology. Organ-chips are polymer chips that use microfluidic cell structure to mimic human organ functionality and the physiological environment for in vitro disease modeling, drug testing, and precision medicine. With funding support from national institutions, the company developed several organ-on-a-chip platforms with assistance from ITRex that was engaged as a tech partner with experience in embedded IoT software and data analytics solutions.

Our task was to:
Design and build embedded IoT software for the organ-on-a-chip platform’s culture module, a lab-ready instrument that automates the flow of cell culture media and mechanical forces applied to cell, tissue, and organ functions
Provide a solution design and build the front end and back end of mobile and desktop software applications that enable study design and management, data analysis, and integration with standard analytical tools. Our services included the setup of development, testing, and production environments using containerized microservices infrastructure to establish a fully automated CI/CD pipeline

Solution

1. We’ve delivered an embedded system and human-machine interface design for the culture module, the core instrument of the organ-on-a-chip platform which automates the flow of culture media through the chip’s microfluidic channels and creates mechanical stresses to stimulate organ pressure. The embedded IoT system is designed for running, observing,and calibrating studies on the culture module and sending study and other data to the platform management application via a MQTT protocol for analysis. The system collects various data such as study status, progress, pressure, and temperature. It has the following key functionality:
Automated process to program culture conditions
Control of stretch parameters
Control of media flow rates in chips
Functionality to eliminate bubble formation
2. ITRex has also built study management and data analytics software that provides researchers with protocols and study plans, allowing them to design and run experiments, and perform data analysis. The mobile/desktop solution is based on microservices to ensure scalability, low coupling, and high cohesion, as well as faster builds and new feature rollouts. Integrated with OpenID Connect for secure user sign-in, the study management and data analytics solution has the following functionality:
Templates of culture protocols for study design
Study timeline page displaying tasks of the culture protocol
Ability to edit the timeline by adding notes and images
Ability to assign and change chips for the study
Master Datasheet for the in-app storage of study design and execution activities
Data analytics tool that provides calculators supporting a range of formulas and running calculations with a single click
Easy-to-use admin panel allowing admins to manage user roles and permissions in different studies to ensure security in research
organ-on-a-chip solution
organ-on-a-chip platform development

Impact

Providing a window into activities inside living human cells, the lab-ready platform enables researchers with no prior experience in organ-on-a-chip technology to easily plan and execute studies
Accelerates drug development and reduces its costs
Adopted by over 100 labs, including those of top pharmaceutical companies and US governmental agencies
Used to study to the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines

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