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Imagine a world where advanced medical technology allows scientists to no longer depend on animals for drug testing and where all trials are completed ethically and more cost efficiently. “Organs-on-Chips,” the winner of the 2015 London Design Museum’s Design of the Year Award, recently revealed the possibility of a future without the need for animal testing, through more research and further technological advancement.
Created and designed by Donald Ingber and Dan Dongeum Huh at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute, “Organs-on-Chips” has been in development for the past seven years as scientists and researchers refine and improve the bio-fabrication technology and stem cells used in the micro device. ”Organs-on-Chips” is exactly what it sounds like – a computer chip designed to behave like various human organs. Described as a chip the size of a computer memory stick, it is lined with living human cells, such as membranes from a human lung and blood capillary cells, that mimic the actual tissue structures, functions and motions of whole organs from liver to lungs and intestines, in the process creating a platform for medical and healthcare research closer to the human body than anything else currently in use.
The microchip allows scientists to recreate human organs, such as a living and breathing lung, to study and test therapies, drugs and bacterial effects. Scientists can then take individually developed organs and create a network to track and record the effects and progress of certain products and medications. This provides a more comprehensive and less time-consuming method of conducting clinical trials as compared to a petri dish or using animals, changing the way scientists will perform research in the future.
As of recently, scientists are able to recreate up to 15 different human organs with the chip, although the chip is still in its infancy and requires further refinement. The “Organs-on-Chips” is now on display and can be seen at the London Design Museum until March 31, 2016.
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