Organs-on-chips the future of drug testing?


The fact that nowadays the only accurate way to test new drugs is by testing them directly on animals and sometimes on humans has ‘inspired’ a few scientists and several companies to work together and  find new ways to test and experiment drugs, that do not involve neither animals nor humans.

According to Tech Insider a new way to do this has already been introduced. “Scientists have been working on a way to streamline this process by simulating organs on small chips, with living human cells arranged to mimic the structure of their full-size inspirations.”

Firstly scientists pour liquid silicone into a mold that has the ability to let scientist grow human cells by making channels. “The cells grow on the bottom of the channel, and fluid flows over them to deliver nutrients, the drug being tested, or anything else the scientists want the cells to encounter.”

According to a press release by The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering Janssen Biotech, Inc. and Emulate are already collaborating together to find better testing alternatives such as the Thrombosis-on-Chip platform. All Janssen Biotech, Inc. and Emulate’s collaborations will not only become a key player on improving the development process of various drugs, but also will help prevent unwanted accidents and side effects by better predicting how a certain drug can affect humans and how human bodies are likely to respond in return.

As of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering press release, some of the Thrombosis-on-Chip functionalities are:

·         Creating a microenvironment to emulate the physiological function of endothelium-platelet interactions, flow of blood, and related mechanical forces involved in platelet aggregation and clot formation;

·         Engineering a microfluidic-based system and integrated analytical methods that embodied an in vitro approach to assess the dynamic functions of platelet interactions with living endothelial cells;

·         Demonstrating molecular and cellular level resolution to evaluate platelet activation and aggregation and interaction of endothelial dysfunction and blood-derived factors in causing thrombosis or bleeding;

·         Analyzing platelet-endothelial interactions under pathophysiological conditions relevant for thrombosis research.


Organs-on-chips’ 3-dimensional structures will make it way easier for analyzing complicated organs that until now have been hard to be studied. Furthermore, organs-on-chips will provide scientists with more precise results that eventually will reduce the need to test any drugs on animals and people.

On the downside, even though organs-on-chips can precisely copy human organs into smaller sizes, they so far, are not able to imitate and reflect all the ways human organs are affected by other organs that are not directly connected to them, which in real life do often affect other organs of the body without having to necessarily be closer to particular organs.

“If organ chip systems prove their merit for testing drugs, they could make getting new treatments to patients who need them faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective. That would be a welcome change to the field of medicine, and it's just beginning to seem plausible,”according to Tech Insider.

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