‘Person-on-a-chip’ technology — a new tool for drug testing

Professor Milica Radisic (IBBME, ChemE) and her research team have taken another step forward in the quest to recreate living organs in the lab.

Artificially growing functional human tissues that closely mimic real organs is an important goal in regenerative medicine.  Such tissues could be used to test drugs safety or help discover new drugs without the costs and ethical questions involved in animal testing or clinical trials.

Beating-heart-2

When seeded with heart cells, the flexible polymer scaffold contracts with a regular rhythm, just like real heart tissue. (Image: Boyang Zhang)

One of the challenges in drug testing lies in determining what kind of an impact drugs that are used to treat cancer tumours, for example, have on other organs such as the heart.  Radisic’s new AngioChip technology uses a small patch composed of 3D- printed biodegradable layers to create a tiny system of artificial blood vessels that can link together two different types of artificial tissue, for example heart and liver tissues.  This more realistic platform could be used to detect dangerous side effects, or even be used as implants to repair damaged organs.

Read more about this research, which was published today in Nature Materials.