What if we could test drugs without animal models?
Wyss Institute researchers and a multidisciplinary team of collaborators have engineered microchips that recapitulate the microarchitecture and functions of living human organs, including the lung, intestine, kidney, skin, bone marrow and blood-brain barrier. These microchips, called ‘organs-on-chips’, offer a potential alternative to traditional animal testing. Each individual organ-on-chip is composed of a clear flexible polymer about the size of a computer memory stick that contains hollow microfluidic channels lined by living human cells interfaced with a human endothelial cell-lined artificial vasculature, and mechanical forces can be applied to mimic the physical microenvironment of living organs, including breathing motions in lung and peristalsis-like deformations in the intestine. Because the microdevices are translucent, they provide a window into the inner workings of human organs.
Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University