On a microslide-sized chip, US scientists model multiple organs

On a microslide-sized chip, US scientists model multiple organs ...

According to a university press release, researchers at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, have developed an organ-on-chip system composed of human heart, liver, bone, and skin, as well as circulating immune cells.

Engineering tissues are now the foundation of disease models, which provide the ideal conditions for disease progression and drug efficacy. However, the human body is a group of tissue types that do not work in isolation but communicate physiologically. So, researchers are developing organ-on-a-chip systems that can mimic the human body, providing further insight into how diseases progress and the effects of drugs on other organs.

Mimicking the human body, unquestionably unique to individuals

The researchers used a multi-organ-on-a-chip system to create a microscope slide. It consists of the human heart, bone, liver, and skin tissues, each unique in its embryonic origin, structure, and functional properties, and requiring its own independent environment. This unique distinction is achieved by using endothelial barriers that are selectively permeable.

Interestingly, the tissue types on the chip system are developed from the same cell line as the human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) technology allows researchers to create patient-specific lines from a small sample of blood drawn from an individual.

While the growth and maturation of the tissue type took four to six weeks, the researchers were also able to maintain these tissues in their individual environments for another four weeks.

Studying anticancer drugs

During this period, researchers examined the effects of the anti-cancer drugdoxorubicin, which is widespreadly used among patients and well known to have adverse effects. The team developed a novel computational model to simulate the drug''s absorption, distribution, metabolism, and secretion on the multi-organ chip, and verified its accuracy by studying the metabolism.

"We were able to identify some early molecular markers of cardiotoxicity, the main side-effect of the drug." The multi-organ chip precisely predicted the cardiotoxicity and cardiomyopathy that often require clinicians to lower therapeutic dosages of doxorubicin, or even to stop the therapy, according to project leader Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic.

Future studies may be used to accurately predict the pharmacodynamic properties of other drugs and to assist in extrapolating effects on clinical outcomes.

According to a press release, the team is currently using variations of the chip to investigate metastasis in breast cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, the effects of ischemia on other organs, as well as the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the heart, lung, and vascular system.

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