Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Development of Circadian Rhythms on Chip

Project description

Liver-on-a-chip following native sleep-wake patterns predicts drug metabolism

The liver is the primary site for the metabolism of drugs, converting them into water-soluble compounds that can be excreted in body fluids. Drug research and development processes must predict various parameters related to drug metabolism and toxicity. However, animal models or existing assays fail to recapitulate the dynamic environment of the liver. To address this issue, the EU-funded CircaCHIP project has developed a microfluidics-based liver-on-a-chip device that captures metabolic dynamics and oscillations of temperature and hormones of the native tissue. This novel platform provides the first device that recapitulates circadian rhythms and can accurately predict the metabolism, clearance and toxicity of pharmaceuticals.


The liver is responsible for the systemic regulation of human metabolism, responding to a dynamically changing hormonal and nutritional environment. These physiological dynamics limited our ability to model human metabolism in our efforts to create efficient pharmaceutical interventions for prevalent metabolic diseases, such as fatty liver disease, obesity, and type-2 diabetes. In addition, physiological dynamics impact the pharmacokinetics and toxicity of drugs due to circadian changes in drug metabolism, affecting our ability to formulate efficient pharmaceutical interventions or properly assess drug toxicity (i.e. Chronopharmacology). The problem stems from our inability to model the dynamics of human metabolism in vitro, and compounded by the failure of animal models to predict human response due to differences in physiology, metabolic regulation, and an inverted day/night cycles. In addition, in vitro hepatocytes show little to no metabolic function and lack the physiological complexity of human tissue. Therefore, there is a pressing need to develop models that mimic human physiological complexity. Recently, we established groundbreaking libraries of expandable human hepatocytes (Levy et al. Nature Biotechnology 2015) and a cutting-edge liver-on-chip platform that tracks metabolic dynamics in real time (Bavli et al. PNAS 2016). Our technology explained the idiopathic toxicity of acetaminophen and the idiosyncratic toxicity of troglitazone and was recently highlighted by the H2020 program. Here, we describe the development of a novel platform that captures the synchronization of circadian rhythms in self-assembled human micro-livers by microfluidic oscillations of temperature and hormones. Our next generation model for liver metabolism will present a quantum leap in capability, offering to go beyond animal models by predicting time-of-day dependent toxicity and drug clearance. In addition, we will enable the rational design of a new generation of pharmaceuticals


Net EU contribution
€ 149 969,00
Edmond j safra campus givat ram
91904 Jerusalem

See on map

Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)