Designer: Donald Ingber and Dan Dongeun Huh
A way to research drugs without testing on animals
Scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have adapted computer microchip manufacturing methods to design and fabricate crystal-clear microdevices lined with living human cells that mimic the complex tissue structures, functions and mechanical motions of whole organs; they are essentially living ‘Human Organs-on-Chips’. Each Organ-on-a-Chip models natural tissue structures and mirrors the dynamic mechanical behavior of internal organs. Chips can also be linked to form a ‘Human Body-on-Chips’, which can be analyzed to learn how drugs impact each organ as they are distributed and metabolized throughout the body. Cells from individual patients or from genetically-related populations can be used to inhabit these Organs-on-Chips to build mimics of their organs, a tactic that promises to advance personalized medicine, accelerate drug discovery and decrease development costs.