Scientists integrating multiple organ-on-chip systems to mimic the whole human body

Aug 11, 2012
Wyss Institute researchers and a multidisciplinary team of collaborators seek to build and link 10 human organs-on-chips to mimic whole body physiology. The system will incorporate the Institute's Human Lung-on-a-Chip (top) and Human Gut-on-a-Chip (bottom).

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University today announced that it has entered into a Cooperative Agreement worth up to $37 million with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop an automated instrument that integrates 10 human organs-on-chips to study complex human physiology outside the body. This effort builds on the Institute's past breakthroughs in which Institute researchers engineered microchips that recapitulate the microarchitecture and functions of living organs, such as the lung, heart, and intestine. Each individual organ-on-chip is composed of a clear flexible polymer -- about the size of a computer memory stick -- that contains hollow microfluidic channels lined by living human cells. Because the microdevices are translucent, they provide a window into the inner-workings of human organs without having to invade a living body.

With this new DARPA funding, Institute researchers and a multidisciplinary team of collaborators seek to build 10 different -on-chips, to link them together to more closely mimic whole body physiology, and to engineer an automated instrument that will control fluid flow and while permitting real-time analysis of complex biochemical functions. As an accurate alternative to traditional animal testing models that often fail to predict human responses, this instrumented "human-on-a-chip" will be used to rapidly assess responses to new drug candidates, providing critical information on their safety and efficacy.

Several U.S. agencies are working together to help safeguard Americans from deliberate chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, as well as from emerging infectious diseases, by drastically accelerating the drug development process. As an example, DARPA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are actively collaborating to develop cutting edge technologies to predict drug safety. The Wyss project was selected under the DARPA Defense Sciences Office (DSO) Microphysiological Systems Program and will be administered through a Cooperative Agreement by the Army Research Office (ARO) and DARPA.

This unique platform could help ensure that safe and effective therapeutics are identified sooner, and ineffective or toxic ones are rejected early in the development process. As a result, the quality and quantity of new drugs moving successfully through the pipeline and into the clinic may be increased, regulatory decision-making could be better informed, and patient outcomes could be improved.

Jesse Goodman, FDA Chief Scientist and Deputy Commissioner for Science and Public Health, commented that the automated human-on-chip instrument being developed "has the potential to be a better model for determining human adverse responses. FDA looks forward to working with the Wyss Institute in its development of this model that may ultimately be used in therapeutic development."

Explore further: Student designs and develops revolutionary new hand-held laminating tool

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers create living human gut-on-a-chip

Mar 27, 2012

Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created a gut-on-a-chip microdevice lined by living human cells that mimics the structure, physiology, and mechanics of the ...

Smart suit improves physical endurance

Jul 20, 2012

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University today announced that it has received a $2.6 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop ...

Toxicology-on-a-chip tool readies for market

Dec 12, 2005

Recalls of popular prescription drugs are raising public concern about the general safety of new pharmaceuticals. A collaborative group of researchers says that identifying which drug candidates are toxic early ...

Recommended for you

Fully automated: Thousands of blood samples every hour

5 hours ago

Siemens is supplying automation technology for the longest and one of the most cutting-edge sample processing lines in any clinical laboratory. The line, or automation track, 200 meters long, in Marlborough, ...

Explainer: What is 4-D printing?

5 hours ago

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it's found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can p ...

First series production vehicle with software control

5 hours ago

Siemens has unveiled the first electric series production vehicle with the central electronics and software architecture RACE. This technology, developed in the research project of the same name, replaces ...

Amputee puts limb system through its paces

8 hours ago

"Amputee Makes History with APL's Modular Prosthetic Limb" is the headline from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where a team working on prosthetics observed a milestone when a double amputee showed ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jitterbewegung
Aug 12, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Jitterbewegung
not rated yet Aug 18, 2012
I'm sorry for asking a question that was not appropriate. I do not understand what was wrong with it and I cannot find a link to reply to physorg support.

All I really wanted to know was if the brain on chip you wrote an article about was compatable with this chip?

http://phys.org/n...026.html

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.