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In Silico Clinical Trials (Organs on a chip)

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The advancement in medical technologies over the past few years has been huge. One such advancement is the In Silico Clinical Trials (Organs on a chip). The current procedure that is followed for clinical trials takes many years to complete and testing a single compound can cost more than $2B due to the complexities of FDA. Prior to approval of any new drug by regulatory agencies, the process is long and tedious. To avoid this, researchers are now starting to experiment with new technologies that will help reduce the time and cost of such trials that kill millions of animals every year.

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The researchers along with a multidisciplinary team of collaborators at Wyss Institute have engineered microchips that recapitulate the microarchitecture and functions of living human organs, including the kidney, skin, lung, bone marrow, intestine, and blood-brain barrier. Called ‘organs-on-chips’, these microchips offer a potential alternative to traditional animal testing. Each individual organ-on-chip is composed of a clear flexible polymer about the size of a computer memory stick that contains hollow microfluidic channels lined by living human cells interfaced with a human endothelial cell-lined artificial vasculature, and mechanical forces can be applied to mimic the physical microenvironment of living organs, including breathing motions in lung and peristalsis-like deformations in the intestine. The microdevices provide a window into the inner workings of human organs because they are translucent.

If the clinical trials prove to be successful, it will be a huge step towards humanization of the drug testing process, saving the animals from abuse. It will also prove to be cost-saving and time-saving.

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