New “Body on a chip” could improve drug evaluation

Human tissue samples linked by microfluidic channels replicate interactions of multiple organs.


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MIT engineers have recently developed “Body on a chip” technology to evaluate new drugs and detect possible side effects before the drugs are tested in humans. Through this technology, scientists expect to precisely reproduce human organ collaborations for a considerable length of time at once, enabling them to gauge the impacts of medications on various parts of the body.

Through this chip, users can distribute a drug and then look for the effects on other tissues, and measure the exposure and how it is metabolized. Moreover, it will assess counteracting agent drugs and different immunotherapies, which are hard to test completely in creatures since they are intended to associate with the human safe framework.

Scientists primarily recognize medicate targets in view of what they think about the science of the malady, and after that make aggravates that influence those objectives. Preclinical testing in creatures can offer data about a medication’s security and viability before human testing starts, however, those tests may not uncover potential reactions.

Linda Griffith, the School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Innovation said, “Animals do not represent people in all the facets that you need to develop drugs and understand the disease. That is becoming more and more apparent as we look across all kinds of drugs.”

The new platform should allow researchers to measure the effects of experimental drugs on different parts of the body before testing them in humans.  Image: Felice Frankel
The new platform should allow researchers to measure the effects of experimental drugs on different parts of the body before testing them in humans.
Image: Felice Frankel

Griffith says, “Complications can also arise due to variability among individual patients, including their genetic background, environmental influences, lifestyles, and other drugs they may be taking. A lot of the time you don’t see problems with a drug, particularly something that might be widely prescribed until it goes on the market.”

As a feature of an undertaking initiated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Griffith and her partners chose to seek after an innovation that they call a “physiome on a chip,” which they accept could offer an approach to show potential medication impacts all the more precisely and quickly. To accomplish this, the scientists required new gear — a stage that would enable tissues to develop and collaborate with each other — and in addition designed tissue that would precisely mirror the elements of human organs.

Prior to this extent was propelled, nobody had prevailed with regards to associating in excess of a couple of various tissue composes on a stage. Moreover, most scientists chipping away at this sort of chip were working with shut microfluidic frameworks, which enable liquid to stream in and out, however, don’t offer a simple method to control what is going on inside the chip. These frameworks likewise require outside pumps.

Thus, scientists decided to create a system that removes the lid and makes it easier to manipulate the system and remove samples for analysis. Their system, adapted from the technology they previously developed and commercialized through U.K.-based CN BioInnovations, also incorporates several onboard pumps that can control the flow of liquid between the “organs,” replicating the circulation of blood, immune cells, and proteins through the human body. The pumps also allow larger engineered tissues, for example, tumors within an organ, to be evaluated.

The chip comes with multiple versions for various organ types including liver, lung, gut, endometrium, brain, heart, pancreas, kidney, skin, and skeletal muscle. It will deliver a drug to the gastrointestinal tissue, mimicking oral ingestion of a drug, and then observe as the drug was transported to other tissues and metabolized.

Griffith believes that the most immediate applications for this technology involve modeling two to four organs. Her lab is now developing a model system for Parkinson’s disease that includes brain, liver, and gastrointestinal tissue, which she plans to use to investigate the hypothesis that bacteria found in the gut can influence the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Griffith said, “An advantage of our platform is that we can scale it up or down and accommodate a lot of different configurations. 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.”

David Trumper, an MIT professor of mechanical engineering, and Murat Cirit, a research scientist in the Department of Biological Engineering, are also senior authors of the paper, which appears in the journal Scientific Reports. The paper’s lead authors are former MIT postdocs Collin Edington and Wen Li Kelly Chen.


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