CN Bio licenses human gut microbiome modelling tool from MIT and Northeastern University

CN Bio, a leading organ-on-a-chip company (OOC) that designs and manufactures singleand multi-organ microphysiological systems (MPS), has secured the licensing rights to a novel tool for modelling the gut microbiome, GuMI, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and North-eastern University. Planned for commercial launch in 2023, the technology will be integrated into CN Bio’s PhysioMimix OOC range of single and multi-organ MPS, enabling researchers to investigate the direct interaction between the microbiome and gut, and the wider effects of the microbiome on organs such as the liver and brain.

The ability to study the human microbiome and its effects on human health is an area of great research interest and a pivotal application for OOC technology. Through its relationship with MIT, CN Bio has licensed the GuMI device from OOC pioneer and long-term collaborator, Professor Linda Griffith, at MIT’s Department of Biological Engineering, whose group recently published findings using the system [1], and joint patent-holder Professor Rebecca Carrier at Northeastern University.

Dr David Hughes, CEO, CN Bio, commented: “We are rapidly coming to appreciate the important role the microbiome plays in human health and disease. The field is held back by a lack of experimental systems which truly enable researchers to explore and understand the microbiome and its interactions. Adding the GuMI technology to our PhysioMimix system is an important step in CN Bio’s journey to providing our customers with the most physiologically relevant models to power their drug discovery.”

Modelling the human microbiome in the laboratory is challenging, especially since many of its several thousand strains of bacteria cannot grow or survive when exposed to oxygen. Animal and in vitro cell-based models have provided some insights to this area of research, however, until now, there has not been a system for long-term in vitro co-culture of a colonic mucosal barrier that supports the growth of these highly oxygen-sensitive microbes.

The GuMI device enables researchers to precisely control oxygen levels within the system, enabling anaerobic bacteria to grow in the mucus layer above the gut barrier. This closely resembles human physiology. Micropumps circulate cell culture medium to ensure the cells are nourished and to remove bacteria from the system for specific analysis of the microbiome.

This agreement follows the recent selection of CN Bio’s PhysioMimix MultiOrgan MPS by King’s College London, to create a unique human-relevant liverintestinal model for characterizing and manipulating host-microbial interactions, to support improved outcomes in cirrhosis.


Zhang J et al., Primary Human Colonic Mucosal Barrier Crosstalk with Super Oxygen-Sensitive Faecalibacterium prausnitzii in Continuous Culture. Med 2021; 2(1): 74-98e.9. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.medj.2020.07.001

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