Emulate has raised $82 million in a series E round to help further develop and commercialize its organ-on-a-chip technology. The Boston, MA company has raised a total of $225 million since it was founded in 2013.
Northpond Ventures led the round with additional participation from Perceptive Advisors.
Emulate’s organ-on-a-chip technology is about the size of a thumb drive and enables researchers to replicate and study human biology and disease, helping them understand and predict drug response with greater precision and detail than possible with conventional cell culture or animal-based methods.
Jim Corbett, Emulate’s CEO said the company is trying to solve the question of “how do you move into the clinic with good predictive insights before you begin treating patients in a clinical trial.”
“The challenge for the industry, is the models they use today are not very predictive of what’s going to happen in the human clinical trial,” Corbett told MD+DI. “Therefore, when you move a compound into the clinic, the failure rate is just terribly high. Researchers need alternatives.”
Corbett added, “the team here at Emulate created an organ-on-chip [technology]. “We’ve created a model that’s highly predictive of what’s going to happen inside the human body. With our objective to allow researchers better insight before they enter the clinic so their success rates can go up and ideally get more therapeutics to patients sooner…”
Proceeds from the financing will support a significant scale-up in research and development activities to facilitate the creation of new human-relevant organ-on-a-chip models in immunology, neuroinflammation, tumor modeling, and more. To help meet growing global demand, Emulate is extending operations in the Asia Pacific region with two new distributors.
“We’re looking to accelerate our investment into research and development,” Corbett said. “We’ve laid out a product road map where we’re going to launch 14 new applications that will run across multiple organ models that align with the investments made by pharmaceutical companies spending their R&D dollars.”
Starting late last year, the company delved into the world of COVID-19. The first collaborative agreement was with FDA to evaluate the safety of vaccines and protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 using the company’s lung model. The second agreement was with the U.S. Army to understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus interacts with lung cells.
“Our deep engagement in research collaborations like this one is crucial to advancing technologies like Organ-Chips that may help identify toxicity, efficacy, and disease susceptibility earlier in product development,” FDA Chief Scientist, Rear Admiral Denise Hinton said in prepared remarks. “A robust commitment to science is at the core of our public health mission and helping to facilitate advancements in regulatory science reflects our dedication to fostering the development of critical medical products to address public health threats like COVID-19.”
The work Emulate is doing with its organ-on-a-chip is merely the tip of the iceberg. Corbett said the technology has yet to reach its full potential.
“We’re in the very early innings,” he said. “We’re in inning one or two of a nine-inning game.”