The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University today announced that it has entered into a Cooperative Agreement worth up to $37 million with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop an automated instrument that integrates 10 human organs-on-chips to study complex human physiology outside the body. This effort builds on the Institute's past breakthroughs in which Institute researchers engineered microchips that recapitulate the microarchitecture and functions of living organs, such as the lung, heart, and intestine. Each individual organ-on-chip is composed of a clear flexible polymer containing hollow microfluidic channels lined by living human cells about the size of a computer memory stick. Because the microdevices are translucent, they provide a window into the inner-workings of human organs without having to invade a living body.
With this new DARPA funding, Institute researchers and a multidisciplinary team of collaborators seek to build 10 different human organs-on-chips, to link them together to more closely mimic whole body physiology, and to engineer an automated instrument that will control fluid flow and cell viability while permitting real-time analysis of complex biochemical functions. As an accurate alternative to traditional animal testing models that often fail to predict human responses, this instrumented "human-on-a-chip" will be used to rapidly assess responses to new drug candidates, providing critical information on their safety and efficacy.
Several U.S. agencies are working together to help safeguard Americans from deliberate chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, as well as from emerging infectious diseases, by drastically accelerating the drug development process. As an example, DARPA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are actively collaborating to develop cutting edge technolog
|Contact: Twig Mowatt|
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard