Before regulators will approve a drug for clinical trial in humans, promising compounds are tested in a laboratory, usually on animals such as rats and dogs. But an alternative process, using what are called “organs on a chip”, has just taken a big step forward. Such devices contain a colony of human cells that have been coerced into replicating the function of a particular organ. Tiny pipes mimic a blood supply. In a study this week in Nature Communications Imperial College London report that that a liver chip developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CN Bio, a British company, responded to a hepatitis B viral infection in the same way that a real human liver would. That shows such chips have the potential to produce data that are more realistic, and cheaper, than using laboratory animals. Organ chips for the heart and lungs could be next.
Source: Take heart: organs on chips
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