How does a lung-on-a-chip actually work?

  • The Wyss Institute’s human “Organs-on-Chips” team has used the lung-on-a-chip shown here to study drug toxicity and potential new therapies. Image credit: Harvard's Wyss Institute
Date:18 September 2014 Tags:, ,

If you were thinking that practical man-machine interfaces were still a long way off, think again. The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University recently announced that its human “Organs-on-Chips” technology will be commercialised by a newly formed private company to accelerate development of pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic and personalised medicine products.

Created with microchip manufacturing methods, an Organ-on-a-Chip is a cell culture device, about the size of a computer memory stick, that contains hollow channels lined by living cells and tissues that mimic organ-level physiology. The devices produce levels of tissue and organ functionality not possible with conventional culture systems, while permitting real-time analysis of biochemical, genetic and metabolic activities within individual cells.

The Wyss Institute team has also developed an instrument to automate the Organs-on-Chips and link them together by a flowing medium that mimics blood to create a “Human-Body-on-Chips” and better replicate whole body-level responses.

Says Wyss spokesman Don Ingber: “This is a big win towards achieving our Institute’s mission of transforming medicine and the environment by developing breakthrough technologies and facilitating their translation from the benchtop to the marketplace.”

This video shows how the lung-on-a-chip works…

Source: Wyss Institute


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