The lab-on-a-chip, designed by researchers at John Hopkins, seems like science-fiction lure, but what it has inspired is even more futuristic: living organ-on-a-chip. It's exactly what it sounds like, as hard as that might be to believe: a living organ on a chip.
Created by researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute, these organ-on-a-chip can help change the medical world.
We're not talking about Pringles, nor are we talking silicon chips that simulate organs. We're talking tiny chips with living human cells hanging out and, you know, being organs.
Take, for example, the gut-on-a-chip: it's a single layer of human intestinal cells, which grow on a flexible, porous membrane that's attached to the clear plastic of a chip. Using a vacuum pump, scientists get the membrane to stretch and then recoil, like an actual human gut in the midst of peristalsis.
Then there's the lung-on-a-chip, which is, again, exactly what it sounds like.
What is so special about these is that they can be tested the same way a human subject can. Also, they're transparent, leading for incredibly easy observation.
For drug testing, researchers just add a solution of a compound to the chip and watch how the cells react. No one is ever endangered.
It will also help treat diseases that only humans have, such as Crohn's disease, because it will lead to safe testing.
Watch the video below to hear more about organ-on-a-chip(s) from folks at the Wyss Institute.
Via Extreme Tech