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Model Organ

The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the US National Institutes of Health has awarded 17 new grants to support the development of artificial organs for testing drugs, reports the Nature News blog. "The hope is that these chips can provide a reliable, inexpensive way to study human disease, in part by allowing different types of cells to interact and by mimicking the [3D] environment that cells inhabit in intact tissues," the Nature News blog adds. NIH adds that it plans to provide $70 million over five years for this program.

Among the grant recipients are Columbia University's Angela Christiano, who is modeling complex diseases using induced pluripotent stem cells; Johns Hopkins University's Thomas Hartung, who is developing a 3D model of the brain to study how genes and the environment interact; and Kevin Parker at Harvard University, who is developing a chip-based model of the human cardiopulmonary system. For 2012, NCATS has contributed $9 million to these awards. The NIH Common Fund has given $4 million.