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'Organs-on-a-Chip'

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.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.