Providing new treatments to patients is a long and challenging process. Too often, the tests that scientists conduct during the early phases of research fail to predict efficiency or side effects in humans, resulting in many years and billions of dollars consumed while patients wait for effective treatments.
That picture might be about to change. Read more below.
Chip can help you learn about the innovative developments of the Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program at NCATS. Click on Chip's icons to learn more about the tissues and organ systems they represent, and read more about the entire project below. You also can view images and video clips of the tissue chips in action. Ready?
Note: Gray icons represent tissue chips that are not currently in development.
Credit: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
Improving Drug Testing with Chip
NCATS — in collaboration with other NIH Institutes and Centers, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration — leads the development of 3-D platforms designed to mimic functions of the human body and support living human tissues and cells. Referred to as "tissue chips" or "organs on chips," these devices are designed as accurate models of the structure and function of human organs, such as the lung, liver and heart. When scientists have tested the chips developed to date with compounds already known to be safe or toxic in humans, the majority have responded as predicted.
Through the use of tissue chips, scientists merge technologies from complex biology with modern tissue engineering by combining miniature models of living tissues on a transparent microchip. About the size of a thumb drive, the chip designs mimic the complex biological functions of specific organs.
What's more, the chips are designed to be modular, meaning scientists can connect one chip with another to test the effects of potential drugs on several organ systems at a time. A "human body on a chip" is the ultimate goal of the program, enabling researchers to test the potential effects of a substance across the entire body before involving human clinical participants.
NCATS envisions that the tissue chips will help scientists generate data on drug safety and effectiveness to predict more accurately how specific drugs will respond in people. The new technology ultimately could help accelerate the drug development and approval process and, most important, enable health professionals to make new treatments available sooner to patients.
Click on Chip's icons above to learn more about the tissues and organ systems they represent and to view images and video clips of the chips in action.