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FDA Awards Wyss Institute $5.6M for Organs-on-Chips Technology in Assessing Radiation Sickness Countermeasures

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday that it has awarded Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering a $5.6 million contract to assess medical countermeasures for treating radiation sickness using Wyss' organs-on-chips technology.

In work carried out as part of the award, researchers at Wyss will develop models of radiation damage in lung, gut, and bone marrow organs-on-chips and then test possible medical countermeasures for radiation sickness on the models.

FDA said in a statement that developing medical countermeasures against radiation sickness, also called acute radiation syndrome, or ARS, is a high priority for the US government. However, because ARS may involve many organ systems and countermeasures may not be effectively studied in animal models because their activity is specific to humans, the development of countermeasures face "complex scientific challenges."

Wyss' technology provides a chance to assess candidate medical countermeasures for ARS in the context of a human organ system, "which could yield valuable information for facilitating development," FDA said.

"Organs-on-chips technology represents the kind of transformational change in the way products are evaluated that is critical to advancing regulatory science, the science underpinning all FDA regulatory decisions," Luciana Borio, the FDA's assistant commissioner for counterterrorism policy, said in a statement. "It holds enormous promise for improving our understanding of new medical countermeasures, particularly when it is unethical or unfeasible to conduct efficacy studies in humans, and when available animal models have limited use in accurately predicting human response."