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University of Washington and Nortis publish first organ-on-chip study modeling human liver-kidney interactions for preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies

Posted by Matthew Hayes on

Liver-kidney, 3D organ-on-chip model run on Nortis ParVivo™ system elucidates absorption, distribution and metabolism ex vivo for the first time using human cells  

Seattle, WA — November 28, 2017 — Nortis today announced the publication of the first study to show microfludically-linked, 3D organ-on-chip human models for liver and kidney can be used to identify organ-organ interactions in response to known chemical toxicants. The University of Washington used the Nortis ParVivo system in this study that was published in JCI Insights and highlighted as its cover article.  

It is often difficult to study toxicological mechanisms in human subjects due to ethical concerns, yet studies in laboratory animals often don’t mimic results seen in humans. Plant-derived aristolochic acids are among the most potent nephrotoxins and carcinogens discovered to date, yet the mechanism of bioactivation in humans remains poorly understood. In China alone, 100 million people have taken Aristolochia herbal remedies, highlighting the potential morbidity and mortality associated with medicinal use of these herbs, making it an excellent model system to test the capacities of 3D organ-on-chip technology to gain insight into new mechanisms of drug action. The Nortis ParVivo system enables a robust and cost-effective approach to examine organ-organ toxicological effects of pharmaceutical and environmental chemicals using human-derived cells.  

Dr. Edward Kelly, Associate Professor at University of Washington and principal investigator on the project states, “This research highlights the extraordinary capabilities of organ-on-chip technologies, and is the first example of functional coupling of liver and kidney chip systems to recapitulate absorption, distribution and metabolism ex-vivo.  Using this approach, we were able to define the specific enzymes, transporters and metabolic products leading to aristolochic acid nephropathy, a condition arising from ingestion of either certain Chinese herbal products or environmentally-contaminated foods.”  

Dr. Thomas Neumann, CEO of Nortis and contributor to this study adds, “We envision drug developers in biopharma and academia will continue to leverage the robust and flexible 3D organ-on-chip ParVivo system to advance their understanding of drug mechanisms and reduce the risk of harmful new drugs and nutraceuticals being introduced into the marketplace.”  

About Nortis 

Nortis is a privately held organ-on-chip company that is revolutionizing traditional drug development and discovery processes. World leading organizations pursuing improved methods for preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies rely on Nortis systems for doing their research, including global biotech and pharmaceutical leaders and top academic and non-profit centers like the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). For more information about Nortis visit  

About the ParVivo System

The ParVivo system provides organizations with the ability to accurately investigate living 3D models of human organs and accelerate the discovery and introduction of new therapies into the market. The in-vitro alternative to today’s laboratory animal models better replicates the function of living human organs with the aim of reducing clinical trial failures. Organ models currently under development by scientists and developers include applications for kidney, brain, liver, immune system, blood vessels, and various cancers.


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