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Zyoxel collaborates in new Bio-Mimetics program

Zyoxel announces subaward in Cooperative Agreements worth up to $32 million to develop a ‘human body on a chip’ to accelerate the development of safer medicines.

Begbroke based start-up company Zyoxel are collaborating with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and MatTek Corp. to develop a circuit of miniature human organs on a chip as part of a five year, up to $26.3 million program awarded by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The project aims to incorporate 10 micro-engineered living human tissues on a single integrated chip providing a versatile platform to predict the safety of new drugs and vaccines.

The company is currently located at Begbroke Science Park. The Zyoxel team will be led by Dr David Hughes, Head of Research and Development, and the MIT research by Professor Linda Griffith and colleagues in the Department of Biological Engineering.

Zyoxel’s LiverChipTM technology will also be used in a related Cooperative Agreement given to Professor Griffith, Draper Laboratories and researchers at the University of Pittsburgh by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The up to $6.25 million project aims to develop a model of liver metastasis and improve the understanding of how secondary tumours develop away from primary tumour sites.

Dr Tim Hart, CEO of Zyoxel said: “Over a third of new drugs fail once they are tested in patients because scientists do not have suitable tools to predict how a drug will affect humans. We are delighted to be working with MIT and our other collaborators on these tissue models which have the capacity to speed the development of new therapies with fewer side-effects.”

The funding initiative brings together two major United States federal funding agencies, DARPA and the NIH, who have teamed up with the US Food and Drug Administration, to tackle drug failure with improved predictive tools. The NIH has committed $70 million to the five year initiative while DARPA’s commitment includes more than $60 million to support two research consortia led by MIT and Harvard University.

Zyoxel is an Isis Innovation spin-out from the University of Oxford. Founded in 2009 to develop technologies to improve pre-clinical drug testing and reduce animal experiments, Zyoxel’s Oxford-based researchers are developing models of the human gastrointestinal and endocrine systems.

Dr David Hughes said: “Zyoxel’s LiverChip” technology will provide an important building block in the development of an immune-competent model of the human liver, central to the microchip-based gastrointestinal system to be developed under this programme.”

About Zyoxel

Zyoxel develops and supplies bioengineered solutions to support three-dimensional perfused cell culture for more physiologically relevant in vitro cell and tissue models. These products are used by pharmaceutical companies to predict the clinical safety and pharmacological properties of new drugs. Zyoxel’s current platforms are based on innovative technologies developed at the University of Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Zyoxel was spun out of Oxford University’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering in 2009 with investment from Hong Kong multinational CN Innovations Holdings.

About LiverChip LiverChip is a bioreactor system that permits living human liver microtissues to be maintained under constant perfusion. LiverChip includes scaffolds whose dimensions have been engineered to recreate the architecture of the liver sinusoid. When primary hepatocytes are seeded into LiverChip the cells reconstitute in vivo-like tissues within the microporous scaffold. LiverChip is used by pharmaceutical companies to predict the clinical safety and pharmacological properties of new drugs.

Related Links

Zyoxel website:

MIT press release:

National Institutes of Health press release:

For More Information, including high-resolution photos, please contact:

Dr Tim Hart

CEO, Zyoxel

T: +44 (0) 1865 309 600


Dr Emma Sceats

Commercial Manager, Zyoxel

T: +44 (0) 7770 470 978


Ben Roeves