Technology is changing the way the world tests pharmaceuticals. Researchers have found a revolutionary new way to perform drug and cosmetic tests using a biotechnology referred to as ‘human-on-a-chip’.
Developed by a Florida biotechnology firm named Hesperos Inc., in collaboration with pharmaceutical giant Roche, the University of Central Florida (UCF), and L’Oréal Research, the new in-vitro multi-organ system can more accurately and safely test the toxicity and efficacy of chemicals by simulating the human response. That would eliminate the need for animal testing in many scenarios.The potential impact is an overhaul of how we currently test drug treatments for diseases, including common cancers.
Scientists are using human cells generally sourced from induced pluripotent stem cells that are used to build different organ components and then connecting them on a single transparent chip that emulates how these organs connect in the body. Researchers are able to treat each compartment as a chemical reactor, absorber, or what is called a ‘holding tank’ in chemical engineering.
The holding tank, or reservoir, in conjunction with a blood surrogate, enables researchers to sample how drugs interact and metabolize and how the organs respond. Scientists are able to sample from reservoirs just as could if they took a blood sample from your body to run analytical procedures on it.
The chip can monitor and assess acute drug treatments spanning from a few hours to days or chronic drug treatments up to 28 days. There are wideranging benefits to the ‘human on a chip’ technology, but perhaps the most notable is that it makes the drug development process more efficient and cost-effective. This technology helps to make a better argument or guess about which compounds will be more effective in clinical trials. The dividends from this technology are not just about funneling more money into drug companies it also pays dividends to society in the form of more useful drugs with the same investment.