Bryan Hassell, a Ph.D. candidate working in Dr. Donald Ingber’s laboratory at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, is a new Graduate Fellowship recipient. Bryan’s project, “Human cancer-on-a-chip as a replacement for animal testing” seeks to develop an organ-on-a-chip platform to determine how lung cancer cells respond to chemotherapy depending on their organ-specific microenvironment and to identify new anticancer therapies. Bryan’s physics and engineering background, in combination with the extensive biological training he is receiving in the Ingber lab, will allow him to take a multidisciplinary approach toward developing an innovative model that has the potential to replace the use of animals.
K.H. Benam, S. Dauth, B. Hassell, A. Herland, A. Jain, K.J. Jang, K. Karalis, H.J. Kim, L. MacQueen, R. Mahmoodian, S. Musah, Y.S. Torisawa, A.D. van der Meer, R. Villenave, M. Yadid, K.K. Parker, D.E. Ingber
Annual Review of Pathology (2015)
The ultimate goal of most biomedical research is to gain greater insight into mechanisms of human disease or to develop new and improved therapies or diagnostics. Although great advances have been made in terms of developing disease models in animals, such as transgenic mice, many of these models fail to faithfully recapitulate the human condition. In addition, it is difficult to identify critical cellular and molecular contributors to disease or to vary them independently in whole-animal models. This challenge has attracted the interest of engineers, who have begun to collaborate with biologists to leverage recent advances in tissue engineering and microfabrication to develop novel in vitro models of disease. As these models are synthetic systems, specific molecular factors and individual cell types, including parenchymal cells, vascular cells, and immune cells, can be varied independently while simultaneously measuring system-level responses in real time. In this article, we provide some examples of these efforts, including engineered models of diseases of the heart, lung, intestine, liver, kidney, cartilage, skin and vascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems, as well as models of infectious diseases and cancer. We also describe how engineered in vitro models can be combined with human inducible pluripotent stem cells to enable new insights into a broad variety of disease mechanisms, as well as provide a test bed for screening new therapies.