Organs-on-Chip, the Future of Drug Testing, is Design of the Year

July 1, 2015, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Wyss Institute’s Organ on Chip has bagged the reward from London’s Design Museum for being the best among projects shown.

The cell-stacked microchip has been added to the museum’s collection not just for its design, but also for its function that makes it one of the most anticipated technologies in medical field.

Development of this advanced microchip began back in 2010. What it brings is the recreation of tissue interfaces of human organs in a transparent polymer chip, aiming to cut down the reliance upon animals for drug testing.


According to Don Ingber, founding director of the Wyss Institute, this also accounts to the pacing of drug testing along with higher accuracies.

What constitute the Organ-on-chip are hollow microfluidic tubes, between which narrow strips are lined to mimic the mechanical and biological activities of an organ.  A porous membrane separates these narrow strips to form distinct layers of human lung cells and blood capillaries.

By the application of microfabrication techniques with modern tissue engineering, the exact functioning of human lungs gets mimicked, allowing the passage of air on one side and blood on the other.

The translucent nature also lets these activities to be easily discernible by means of microscopes.

It’s not just the lung-action that can be recreated using the Organ-on-Chips. There are distinct organ-on-chips for the functioning of kidney, liver and peristaltic guts.

Researchers are also working on the development of skin-on-a-chip for the progress in cosmetic industry. Various Organs-on-chip can also be interlinked to form the exact journey of drugs around the human anatomy.

Lung-on-a-Chip — Wyss Institute from Wyss Institute on Vimeo.

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