The technology could help scientists measure both the effectiveness and potential side effects of existing and new drugs faster and more accurately compared to standard preclinical models. Drug candidates tested using animal models have a high clinical failure rate, and safety studies based on individual human cells can miss toxicity in larger organ systems such as the liver and heart. As a result, candidates with an initially promising safety profile can perform poorly in clinical trials due to unanticipated and damaging side effects.
Their system contains five chambers that can house different populations of human cancer and organ cells, some of which are grown on electrical modules, in a recirculating medium that mimics blood circulation. Importantly, the system can be easily and quickly adapted by inserting new chips in different compartments, allowing for flexible testing of different organ systems.
In addition to its potential uses in drug testing, the chip model could find applications in the design of personalized therapies by integrating patient-derived cells, the authors say.