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'Body on a Chip' Could Improve Drug Evaluation


A chip that can accurately replicate human organ interactions for weeks at a time.

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed technology that could be used to evaluate new drugs and detect possible side effects before the drugs are tested in humans.

Credit: Felice Frankel

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) employed a microfluidic platform linking engineered tissues from multiple human organs to precisely replicate organ-drug interactions for weeks at a time so the medications' effects on different parts of the body can be more accurately modeled.

Their "physiome on a chip" system connected up to 10 organ types directly from patient samples, comprised of clusters of 1 million to 2 million cells.

The team was able to measure where the drugs went, their effects on different tissues, and how the drugs were absorbed.

MIT professor Linda Griffith thinks the technology's most immediate applications involve modeling multiple organs. Her lab is developing a model system for Parkinson's disease that includes brain, liver, and gastrointestinal tissue, which she plans to use to test the theory that bacteria inhabiting the gut can play a significant role in the development of the disease.

From MIT News
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