Currently, detailed toxicity screening does not come into the drug discovery process until later in the development, when significant time and money have been invested in a compound by a company. And animal testing does not always provide information that translates to predicting the toxicity of a compound or its metabolites in a human, Dordick said.
The collaborative team sees the combined chips as an efficient, more accurate way to test drug compounds for toxicity earlier in the discovery process. But, co-lead author and Solidus Biosciences co-founder Douglas S. Clark, professor of chemical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, views pharmaceutical companies as only one potential user, and not necessarily the first.
"The initial market will not necessarily be pharmaceuticals," Clark said. He further explains that the initial market will likely be chemical and cosmetic companies that are being pushed to eliminate animal testing or cannot afford such testing. In fact, by 2009 cosmetics companies in Europe will be restricted from using animals in testing for chemical toxicity. "Obviously cosmetics need to be safe, and ensuring the safety of new compounds without testing them on animals presents a new challenge to the industry, especially as the number of compounds increases. These chips can meet this challenge by providing comprehensive toxicity data very quickly and cheaply."
The team's most recent achievement outlined in PNAS is the DataChip, a biochip comprising up to 1,080 three-dimensional human cell cultures. The three-dimensional structure is more closely in line with how the cells would be arranged in organs of the human body. The DataChip can provide companies or academic labs with an extremely
|Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco|
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute