Researchers are working on a new device to help scientists test drugs more efficiently and that may eliminate the need to test on animals, reports Melinda Wenner Moyer at Scientific American. Developers of a new microchip that simulates the biology of entire organ systems — called "organs on a chip" — say these glass slides coated with human cells are made to mimic a particular tissue or how certain tissues interact with each other, Moyer says. The chips are still in their early stages, and while drugmakers are interested in the technology, they are being cautious. The chips may not completely show certain aspects of a living physiological system the way animal tests do, Moyer adds. Ultimately, researchers want to make the chips sophisticated enough to mimic complex systems, possibly an entire person. The chips could even become personalized to patients, containing cells with specific gene mutations, she says.
Feb 18, 2011