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The organ-on-a-chip field is at tipping point

Published on April 11, 2022


Organ-on-a-chip: miniaturized translucent device containing one or more chambers lined with living human cells, connected by channels through which fluids circulate to reproduce the physiology of the human organ inside the body.

The organ-on-a-chip field is at tipping point, according to Animal Free Research UK Pioneer Award winner, Dr Donald Ingber

Whenever Professor Don Ingber of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering gives his take on disease modelling, drug development and personalised medicine, you can be sure biomedical scientists, pharmaceutic industry and clinicians tune in, writes Animal Free Research UK’s Science Manager, Dr Lilas Courtot.

So, it’s of no surprise the Harvard professor’s on organ-on-a-chip technology in the renowned journal Nature has attracted great attention.

Organ-On-A-Chip enables biomedical researchers to recapitulate more closely and better predict human biology in an ethical, powerful, straightforward, and cost-effective way.

In the review, Professor Ingber presents different types of in vitro – non-animal – human models, giving an overview of many organ-on-a-chip designs, including the “patient-on-a-chip” format. He then highlights the crucial role of these technologies in personalised medicine – called “clinical mimicry” – to reproduce patient clinical responses to drugs, radiation, toxins, and infectious pathogens, allowing the clinician to testing new drugs and refine treatments for a wide range of complex diseases,  or infections.

His comprehensive overview includes a large body of evidence supporting the possibility of seeing a real replacement in animal use together with the application of more efficient approaches to drug development and personalised medicine in the future.

An increasing number of scientists are adopting this technology, which explains its impressive and rapid evolution. For example, Professor Ingber and his Wyss Institute team developed a ‘lymphoid follicle (LF) Chip’, a sophisticated culture of human B and T lymphocytes that mimic the immune system. This has the potential to predict immune responses to various vaccines and select the best performers.

This new approach  – also recently reported in Advanced Science – is offering significant improvement over existing preclinical models like non-human primates or cells in a dish and might significantly speed up the pace and quality of vaccine creation in the coming years.

Increased investment will he predicts pave the way for demonstrating the relevance and reliability of these new technologies over the outdated unethical animal approaches.

Dr Ingber believes we are at the tipping point in the organ-on-a-chip field because the use of humanised in vitro models instead of animals for drug development – which will see the creation of living avatars for personalized medicine – is closer to reality.

And there’s more great news. Professor Ingber – who was recently awarded our Animal Free Research UK’s Pioneer Medal – is to give the keynote speech on organ-on-a-chip and the challenge of new approach methodologies at our Science Conference on 28-29 of June 2022 in Birmingham.

For tickets and more details, click here –

But hurry – spaces are limited and selling fast!





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