Tissue Chips

by ClarABC
Last updated 7 years ago

Discipline:
Science
Subject:
Biology
Grade:
8,9,10,11,12

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Tissue Chips

Yum! Can I eat it?Unless you want a mouth full of plastic, I suggest otherwise

It's what...?

Really Cool Technology

Yuck! So if I can't eat it. What is it made of?

Tissue chips, have become one of the most recent biotechnological advances in the last week, as different organisations, have seen the potential for them, as a result, governments, and independent companies, have pooled together seventeen million dollars for the next two years according to the National Institutes of Health article written earlier this week (2014). The National Center Advancing Transitional Sciences will head this research (National Institutes of Health, 2014).The National Institutes of Health, has amassed approximately seventy-six million dollars since 2012, and has already teamed up with various industries such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Now in their second year of research, the National Institutes of Health has “…developed individual human tissue chips that demonstrated organ functionality, mimicked human biological responses, and generated more accurate data than conventional cell and animal testing methods. Tissue chips include those for the heart, liver, blood-brain barrier, blood vessels, kidney, gastrointestinal system, nervous system, adipose (fat), and models of tumors and metastasis (the spread of cancer). In addition, chips mimicking both male and female reproductive systems will be critical to evaluating differences in response to drug exposure.” (National Institutes of Health, 2014).Scientists are also looking forward to the prospect of using tissue chips to re-enact an entire system (ex. digestive system) to see how a drug will react after each phase. (National Institutes of Health, 2014).Animal lovers may also have something to gain. If tissue chips, and their ‘organ-on-a-chip’ technology work effectively, then there may no longer be a need to test on animals (Garef, 2012).The days of animal testing could be numbered (Garef, 2012).

Anything Is Possible

Awesome! So what does the future have in store?

A recent advancement in biotechnology

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Tissue Chips

Imagine a microchip smaller than your palm that can carry out the same complex functions as major organs. It is hard to believe, but science has accomplished this amazing feat. Researchers have developed Tissue Chips, which are small-engineered microsystems, which are representations of vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and liver (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014). These Tissue Chips are designed to model and function in a similar fashion to any organ (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014).By being able to mimic the functions of human organs, researchers hope tissue chips will be able to become a reliable drug screening analyzer, that is capable of showing how a new potential drug will affect the human body before reaching clinical trials (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014). Scientists will also be able to probe the tissue chips, which is something they were previously incapable of doing in human clinical trials (National Institutes of Health, 2014).Not only can tissue chips be used to better understand the progression of different diseases, but how they affect the major organs as well (National Institutes of Health, 2014).

A Big Pay Off

Okay, so what's the point?

(above) A picture of what a 3D tissue chip will look like (NewScientist, 2011).(left) A picture of a tissue chip compared to the size of a U.S. nickel (Kidney Research Insitute, n.d.).

There is one main objective in the development of tissue chips, they are aimed to make the development of drugs and toxicology screening more dependable (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014).The potential for tissue chips in humans, will be a huge benefit for the pharmaceutical industry, as currently eighty percent of drugs fail clinical trails because they are ineffective or unsafe and over thirty percent of drugs tested in human clinical trials have failed (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014) (National Institutes of Health, 2014). Their failure is largely due to their toxicity in the human body (even through these levels of toxins were not present in animal models) (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014).The instrumentation used in the development of tissue chips will also allow pharmaceutical researchers to accurately predict how beneficial and effective a potential drug may be. By utilizing tissue chips, pharmacologists can get a better understanding of how the drug will work in the human body, and identify components of the drug that are toxic, before the drug even reaches human clinical trials (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014). This means that it could significantly shorten the time it takes for a drug to reach clinical trials (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014). Also saving money for the researchers, and eventually consumers (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014).

A fusion between computer engineering and modern tissue engineering has led to the development of tissue chips (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014). These three-dimensional chips can range in size from as small as a quarter, to as large as a house key, and are lined with living cells (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014).Within the microsystem itself, these chips are engineered and programmed to replicate the complex functions of any given human organ (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014). The integrity and reliability of tissue chips to be an accurate representation of human physiology/biology is of utmost importance as they will be used to:a)Identify what components of a potential drug will be effective, and which parts will be ineffective in a human body (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014).b)Finding which drugs may enter human clinical trials by detecting their efficiency and safety. This can potentially alter the method in which clinical trials are performed (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014).Tissue chips will not only aid in the pharmaceutical industry but in the biotechnology sector as well (National Center for Advancing Transitional Sciences, 2014)Tissue chips have led to the development of ‘organs-on-a-chip’ which follows the same concept as its parent research in becoming a small chip that is capable of preforming and representing one of ten major organ systems (National Institutes of Health (b.), 2014). ‘Organs-on-a-chip’ will also be used in the testing of drugs and vaccines for toxicity and effectiveness (National Institutes of Health (b.), 2014).

An image of what a kidney chip currently looks like (Gray, 2012).

This video details, the possible future benefits of utilizing tissue chips/'organs-on-a-chip' in the near future (Wyss Institute, 2011).


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