An organ-on-a-chip (OOC) is a multi-channel 3-D microfluidic cell culture chip that simulates the activities, mechanics and physiological response of entire organs and organ systems, a type of artificial organ. It constitutes the subject matter of significant biomedical engineering research, more precisely in bio-MEMS. The convergence of labs-on-chips (LOCs) and cell biology has permitted the study of human physiology in an organ-specific context, introducing a novel model of in vitro multicellular human organisms. One day, they will perhaps abolish the need for animals in drug development and toxin testing.
Although multiple publications claim to have translated organ functions onto this interface, the movement towards this microfluidic application is still in its infancy. Organs-on-chips will vary in design and approach between different researchers. As such, validation and optimization of these systems will likely be a long process. Organs that have been simulated by microfluidic devices include the heart, the lung, kidney, artery, bone, cartilage, skin and more.
Nevertheless, building valid artificial organs requires not only a precise cellular manipulation, but a detailed understanding of the human body’s fundamental intricate response to any event. A common concern with organs-on-chips lies in the isolation of organs during testing. “If you don’t use as close to the total physiological system that you can, you’re likely to run into troubles” says William Haseltine, founder of Human Genome Sciences in Rockville, Maryland. Microfabrication, microelectronics and microfluidics offer the prospect of modeling sophisticated in vitro physiological responses under accurately simulated conditions.
MinacNed is currently working on setting up cluster activities for MinacNed members. For more information you can contact Annerie van Steijn-Heesink, projectmanager at MinacNed.
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