Organ-on-a-Chip Network & Emulate Proof of Concept Award

Defining the interaction of nanomedicines with the small intestine

Principal Investigator:
  • Julia Mantaj
    Anglia Ruskin University
Award round: 3


Oral administration is the most convenient and preferred way of taking drugs. However, this is currently not an option for some of the most important and effective drugs called biologics. Biologics include protein drugs such as insulin, antibodies, vaccines and gene therapies. Because of their large size and complexity, biologics are broken down in the gut and cannot be absorbed across the gut wall. Our labs are aiming to enable oral delivery of such drugs, which would have a transformative effect on the patient and healthcare systems, increasing medicines access and reducing costs. One of the most promising approaches to enable oral biologics is to incorporate them into tiny, virus-sized vehicles or particles, called nanoparticles. We have
developed nanoparticles for oral biologics, testing them in a laboratory model of the intestine (cells grown on plastic dishes) to establish their efficacy. Organ-on-a-chip models are much improved laboratory models of organs, with significantly greater predictive value. We wish to use this model to reliably confirm the potential of our nanoparticles for oral biologics.

The project is organised into two stages. Stage 1 will establish realistic models of the intestine with enhanced predictivity. Stage 2 will determine nanoparticle uptake and absorption across the gut wall as a crucial indicator nanoparticle efficacy for oral biologics delivery (nanoparticles must be capable of crossing the intestinal wall to carry drugs into the circulation). The results obtained in this project will be compared with data available in our lab from previous studies, as well as with the literature. Overall, this project will enable us to reliably predict the efficacy of our drug delivery systems. This will not only be crucially important to decide on their future development but will also highlight the usefulness of organ-on-a-chip models in research related to oral nanoparticles and biologics.