NAVS sees great promise in the ability of organs-on-chips—three-dimensional bioengineered devices made with living cells designed to accurately mimic the function of tissues and organs—to significantly reduce the use of animals in scientific experimentation. Because human cells can be grown within the chips, these tools have greater human relevance than animal models. They may also better predict the safety and efficacy of drugs in the clinic than animals, who are poorly predictive of human clinical responses.
Over the last several years, NAVS has been supporting the development of these and other human-relevant research tools through our funding of International Foundation of Ethical Research (IFER) fellowships, which support student scientists working to develop alternatives to animal use.
Despite the great potential of organs-on-chips to serve as valuable non-animal tools in many areas of research, including drug development, toxicology testing and the study of disease, currently, there are some factors limiting their widespread use. One of these factors is the high quantity of organ chips needed for biological studies.
To overcome this issue, researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University recently published a new protocol in the Journal of Visual Experiments to help more scientists scale up production of organs-on-chips, of virtually any organ, faster and more easily. According to the Institute, the protocol, which explains how to create flexible, dual-channel organ chips, “enables fabrication of dozens of chips per week by a single researcher with greater accuracy and less hands-on time than previous protocols.”
Dr. Donald Ingber, Wyss Founding Director, corresponding author of the study, and mentor of former IFER fellowship recipient Bryan Hassell (pictured above), stated, “Organ Chips provide a way for researchers to gain insight into human biology at the cell, tissue, and organ levels without the need for harming humans or animals. We hope that this new protocol will allow more labs to enter this field and explore entirely new research paths using this technology.”
We applaud the Wyss Institute for taking this important step to improve the accessibility of organs-on-chips, which will provide researchers around the world with an animal-free alternative to conduct studies in drug discovery, safety testing, and basic biological processes.
Help NAVS support smarter science that advances discovery, innovation and human-relevant solutions without the use of harmful, flawed and costly animal experiments by making a donation today.
“Fewer steps in the lab, one more leap for organs-on-chips,” Wyss Institute Website. October 29, 2018