MIT bioengineers have developed a new microfluidic platform technology that could be used to evaluate new drugs and detect possible side effects before the drugs are tested in humans.

The microfluidic platform can connect 3D tissues from up to 10 organs. Replacing animal testing, it can accurately replicate human-organ interactions for weeks at a time and can allow for measuring the effects of drugs on different parts of the body, according to the engineers. For example, the system could reveal whether a drug that is intended to treat one organ will have adverse effects on another.
Physiome on a chip. The new technology was originally funded in 2012 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Microphysiological Systems (MPS) program (see “DARPA and NIH to fund ‘human body on a chip’ research”). The goal of the $32 million program was to model potential drug effects more accurately and rapidly.

Linda Griffith, PhD, the MIT School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Innovation, a professor of biological engineering and mechanical engineering, and her colleagues decided to pursue a technology that they call a “physiome on a chip.” Griffith is one of the senior authors of a paper on the study, which appears in the open-access Nature journal Scientific Reports.

Image Credit:  Felice Frankel

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