Scientists developed chips that can replace various human organs in a clinical study to give precise data. This would revolutionize the clinical lab testing and at some point we might completely ditch animal/human testing too.
Organs on a chip
The advancement in the field of science has led a drastic change in the clinical study. Scientists were able to recreate human organs using electronic chips, which opened a new door to understanding the depth of biological working. This allowed scientists to test and study, drugs & diseases without using animals or humans. So far science world had witnessed heart, lungs, placenta and intestine as chip models. With this progress, a new feat was achieved by researchers from Wyss Institute at Harvard University. They created a human model that inhales cigarettes similar to human does and the smoke exposed to chips, which acts as human lungs.
The main focus of the study was to dig to the depth of COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is a group of disease characterized by difficulty in breathing which can happen due to many reasons. The conventional approach of study is useless in COPD as animal models exhibit a convergent behavior, whereas cell plating techniques cannot absorb the smoke toxin to show any relevance.
The lung-on-chip model uses cells from both healthy humans and those suffering from COPD. The whole assembly works similar to a human smoking cigarette. Once the COPD cells were exposed to smoke, there were certain gene expression changes, which they could precisely isolate when compared to healthy cells. The results would be very useful in future studies in creating new biomarkers, devising drug targets and finding a personalized approach in the treatment of COPD.
Future of clinical studies.
With the chip-on-organ approach, now scientists can obtain accurate data without wasting resource on live clinical life forms. With this approach, it’s never been easy to identify the effect of smoking on the human body to a deeper level including the type of cells, its cellular level functions and genes involved. In a live human model, this kind of data is extremely difficult to observe and collect. Also, the team was able to study the effect of smoking on cilia (small hairy projections) which help in mucus transportation. Smoking and COPD had some unholy relation and now the scientists got a clear answer to all worries regarding both. Moreover, the similar technique can be expanded to various other parts of the human body to study the effect of food, beverages, drugs etc. on the human system, without actually using a human for the trial.