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Biochip mimics the body to reveal toxicity of industrial compounds

Troy, N.Y. - A new biochip technology could eliminate animal testing in the chemicals and cosmetics industries, and drastically curtail its use in the development of new pharmaceuticals, according to new findings from a team of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of California at Berkeley, and Solidus Biosciences Inc.

The team's most recent discovery will be featured in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on Dec. 17.

The researchers have developed two biochips, the DataChip and the MetaChip, that combine to reveal the potential toxicity of chemicals and drug candidates on various organs in the human body, and whether those compounds will become toxic when metabolized in the body, all in one experiment without the use of live animals.

Traditional toxicity testing involves the use of animals to predict whether a chemical or drug candidate is toxic. However, with the large number of compounds being generated in the pharmaceutical industry, and new legislation stipulating that chemicals undergo toxicity analysis, there is a rapidly emerging need for high-throughput toxicity testing.

"We looked at the issues facing companies and realized that we needed to develop something that was low-cost, high-throughput, easily automatable, and did not involve animals," said co-lead author Jonathan S. Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann '42 Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer and co-founder of Solidus Biosciences Inc., the company that is working to commercialize the chips. "We developed the MetaChip and DataChip to deal with the two most important issues that need to be assessed when examining the toxicity of a compound -- the effect on different cells in our body and how toxicity is altered when the compound is metabolized in our bodies."

When the biochips are used together the result is a promising and affordable alternative

Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute  

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