Feature

The potentially revolutionary 'body-on-a-chip' device

It can evaluate drugs and detect possible side effects before the drugs are tested on humans

Each week, we spotlight a cool innovation recommended by some of the industry's top tech writers. This week's pick is a "body on a chip."

Scientists at MIT have developed a new technology that can be used to evaluate drugs and detect possible side effects before the drugs are tested in humans, said Jamie Condliffe at Technology Review. The "body-on-a-chip" device strings together cells from up to 10 organs and pushes fluid through them to mimic blood flow. The process allows researchers to replicate how organs "react and interact with one another when exposed" to new drugs.

Until now, no one had succeeded in connecting more than a few different tissue types on a platform; this new device combines cells from 10 different organs — liver, lung, gut, endometrium, brain, heart, pancreas, kidney, skin, and skeletal muscle. The system allows researchers to pump a drug to the gastrointestinal tissue, for instance, mimicking oral ingestion, and then study what happens as the drug moves to other organs and is metabolized.

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