The organ on chip has integrated sensors that allow scientists to test synthetic tissue instead of testing on animals. This organ on chip gets us one step closer to synthetic organs (via Harvard)
It’s easy to forget the importance of organ donors. Truth is there are still people waiting on long lists looking for their chance at survival. If everyone committed to being a donor, there may be chance for everyone waiting, but people are free to not be a donor and that’s just fine. But lately the medical field has been working to create organs via 3D printer. It’s a difficult feat, but a team of researchers at Harvard University did it. They created the first organ on a chip entirely made with 3D printing.
So what does organ on chip mean anyway? These are devices that imitate the structure and function of native tissue. The chip was built by a fully automated manufacturing method and is equipped with integrated sensors, which allow scientists to test synthetic tissues during long and short term studies. This way, they won’t have to test them on animals. Thanks to this, the researchers create micophysiological systems that have the build and functions of hearts, lungs, tongues, and intestines. Currently, they’re working on a heart on a chip and have developed six different inks that integrated soft strains with the tissue.
According to the researchers, this new development allows them to change and enhance the design of the system. They also to use this new approach for research involving in vitro tissue engineering, drug screening, and toxicology.
This development may get us one step closer to synthetic replacements for human organs. But with everything that sounds too good to be true, there’s a downside: the cost. It takes a lot of work and money to create the organ on chip devices as well as collecting the data from them. For the time being, the devices are built in spotless rooms using a complicated lithographic process. Researchers collect the data using microscopes or high speed cameras. So don’t expect to see these in hospitals just yet. There’s still a lot of testing researchers have to do.
Right now, researchers are testing the efficiency of the organ by studying the MPS drug responses and development of cardiac tissue made from stem cells. This is not just a huge development in synthetic organs, but in collecting data related to the field. Thanks to the integrated sensors in the organ on chip devices, researchers can gather data more effectively, which can lead to new solutions for challenges faced by the medical field.
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