There’s exciting news in the world of animal alternatives research: the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has just made a big commitment to further the development of tissue chips. These chips, as Science First readers know, are three-dimensional bioengineered devices made with living cells. They are designed to accurately mimic the function of human tissues and organs, and have the potential to reduce—and perhaps one day even eliminate—the use of animal models in many areas of research.
Thirteen “Tissue Chip for Disease Modeling and Efficacy Testing” grants, totaling nearly $15 million dollars per year, were recently awarded to researchers developing tissue chips to model human disease. Several of the award recipients are mentors of past and current International Foundation for Ethical Research (IFER) fellowship recipients. (Visit our website to learn more about the tissue chip projects that NAVS has funded through IFER.)
The new grants were made available through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences’ Tissue Chip for Drug Screen program. The funding will cover the first phase of a five-year program. The goals of this phase are to support the development of human-relevant, cell-based disease models on the tissue chip platform, to determine the disease relevance of the models and to test the effectiveness of candidate drugs.
During the second phase of the awards, researchers will work with drug companies to further evaluate the functionality and validity of their disease models, and to determine the effectiveness of therapeutic drugs.
According to Dr. Christopher Austin, Director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, “The goal is for these tissue chips to provide more accurate platforms to understand diseases, and to be more predictive of the human response to drugs than current research models, thereby improving the success rate of candidate drugs in human clinical trials.”
We are encouraged that the government is directing its resources to more human-relevant models and will keep you updated on the progress that continues to be made on these models that have the potential to significantly impact the use of animals in scientific experimentation.
READ MORE: Learn about organs-on-chips on the NAVS website
Source: NIH Press Release. “NIH awards $15 million to support development of 3-D human tissue models. September 19, 2017