Going Beyond Lab on a Chip
In my last blog, I touched on some ideas and tools that are
being used to build “labs on chips.” The
word “nano” (1.10-9) operates significantly in this area. If you were as excited and intrigued with
that blog, read on! For now, we are going to discuss “organs-on-a-chip” and
even a “body-on-a-chip.” Just how does
one model, test and learn about the communication and control of biological
systems with individual organs-on-chips that are one-thousandth or
one-millionth of the size of adult organs, or even smaller [i.e. organs for a
milliHuman (mHu) or microHuman (μHu)]?
With serious work being done to realize functioning artificial
livers, kidneys, hearts and lungs on chips, the next step is not only to
interconnect these organs but also to consider the integration of stem cell
technology to create interconnected patient-specific organs. Such a
patient-specific body-on-a-chip requires a sophisticated set of tools for
micropattering cell cultures in 3D to create interconnected tissue-like organ
structures. It seems the anticipation is that such a technology would have a
wide area of application, primarily benefiting drug development, chemical
safety testing and disease modeling.
We are not there, yet. But it is certain that a large amount of work is going into these
projects not just for the ‘fun’ of creating, say, a kidney on a chip, but because the results will aid in drug testing and replacement medicine and individual
(unique) drug treatment.
1) Lab Chip.
2013 Sep 21;13(18):3496-511. Scaling and systems biology for integrating
multiple organs-on-a-chip. Wikswo JP, 2) Integr Biol (Camb). 2013
Sep;5(9):1149-61. On being the right size: scaling effects in designing a
human-on-a-chip.Moraes C, 3) Lab Chip. 2013 Sep 21;13(18):3471-80. The future
of the patient-specific Body-on-a-chip. Williamson A.