Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New body-on-a-chip technology to advance pharmacological research

Researchers from MIT have developed "physiome on chip" technology that could be used to evaluate new drugs and detect side effects before the drugs are tested in human clinical trials. This could be used an alternative to animal testing for pharmacological testing before human clinical trials.

Body on a chip. Credit: Felice Frankel
They used a microfluidic platform that connects engineered tissues from ten different organs,. By doing so, the researchers were able to accurately replicate human organ interactions considerable periods at a time, allowing them to measure the effects of medication on different organs. This system is also well designed to test immunotherapy as the antibodies are unique to humans and could not be reliably tested in animals. This research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

"Some of these effects are really hard to predict from animal models because the situations that lead to them are idiosyncratic," says Linda Griffith, one of the senior authors of the study. "With our chip, you can distribute a drug and then look for the effects on other tissues and measure the exposure and how it is metabolized."

Griffith believes that the immediate applications of this technology involve modeling  on fewer organ systems. Griffith's lab is now developing a model system to investigate the role of the gut microbiome in Parkinson's disease by creating body on chip that contains  brain, liver, and gastrointestinal tissue.

"An advantage of our platform is that we can scale it up or down and accommodate a lot of different configurations," Griffith says. "I think the field is going to go through a transition where we start to get more information out of a three-organ or four-organ system, and it will start to become cost-competitive because the information you're getting is so much more valuable."

Citation: Edington, Collin D., Wen Li Kelly Chen, Emily Geishecker, Timothy Kassis, Luis R. Soenksen, Brij M. Bhushan, Duncan Freake, Jared Kirschner, Christian Maass, Nikolaos Tsamandouras, Jorge Valdez, Christi D. Cook, Tom Parent, Stephen Snyder, Jiajie Yu, Emily Suter, Michael Shockley, Jason Velazquez, Jeremy J. Velazquez, Linda Stockdale, Julia P. Papps, Iris Lee, Nicholas Vann, Mario Gamboa, Matthew E. Labarge, Zhe Zhong, Xin Wang, Laurie A. Boyer, Douglas A. Lauffenburger, Rebecca L. Carrier, Catherine Communal, Steven R. Tannenbaum, Cynthia L. Stokes, David J. Hughes, Gaurav Rohatgi, David L. Trumper, Murat Cirit, and Linda G. Griffith. "Interconnected Microphysiological Systems for Quantitative Biology and Pharmacology Studies." Scientific Reports 8, no. 1 (2018). doi:10.1038/s41598-018-22749-0.

Research funding: U.S. Army Research Office and DARPA.

Adapted from press release by MIT.

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