The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences website has a new interactive feature introducing “Chip,” a handsome collection of 3-dimensional tissue chip devices scientists are working to integrate into a human-on-a-chip. The project is a collaboration between NCATS, DARPA, the FDA, and numerous academic research partners.
At least a dozen “chip” systems are under development, aiming to model processes in the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, intestines, muscles, skin, reproductive system, and more. As these fully functional cell, tissue, and organ models are perfected, scientists will be able to use them to test potential drugs or vaccines for their effectiveness or toxicity in humans, with much greater accuracy than animal tests can provide. Currently, over 90% of drug candidates fail in development because drugs that looked promising in pre-clinical (animal) trials turn out to be toxic or ineffective in human trials.
You can read more about tissue chip research in this article from AltTox.org. For more technical information, see the September 2014 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine, which is devoted to the topic.
And watch this NCATS video, “Tissue Chip for Drug Screening,” for more on this exciting research.