Enhanced Humans

Testing Drugs on Chips, Not Chimps: Replacing Livers with Circuits

Greg RichardsJune 11th 2015
  • One solution could be a newly developed smartphone-sized piece of plastic that holds anywhere between a dozen and 36 tiny synthetic human livers, and hundreds of thousands of human cells, that react just like the full real organ when exposed to drugs during tests.
  • This liver-on-a-chip works by condensing and simplifying the essential parts of what a liver is — each one has several thousand liver cells hanging off of a plastic scaffold that mimics the strength and flexibility of a real liver, while tiny micropumps keep a constant flow of artificial blood pumping through.
  • CN Bio Innovations, the startup behind the liver chip, claims that using its product will be “significantly” cheaper than the equivalent animal testing for many drugs. The complete lifecycle for the cells, and whatever infects them, can be observed in one tiny space.

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