Cambridge, MA (PRWEB) June 28, 2012
Researchers designed a microdevice that will better simulate a biologically realistic growth environment for human kidney cells in the laboratory. The proof-of-concept for a "kidney-on-a-chip" could one day give scientists a more accurate platform for drug screening or disease modeling.
The microscale tissue modeling device, developed by scientists from Draper Laboratory and Boston University, is the first biomimetic platform to take into account both physical and fluid-flow effects on kidney cells and is a step toward one day replicating kidney organ function in the lab. Their work was published in 2012 in the journal Integrative Biology.
The kidneys are a pair of fist-sized organs that filter blood and are crucial to maintaining fluid balance, regulating blood pressure, and eliminating toxins. Disorders of the kidney can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure, and diabetics are particularly at risk - the World Heath Organization estimates that 10-20% of diabetes-related deaths are due to kidney failure.
The primary structural unit of the kidney, called a nephron, is a highly organized tubule under constant exposure to fluid-flow stress from the blood and fluids it filters. In addition, nephron cells receive cues from the extracellular matrix, a network of structural and signalling proteins. In the laboratory, kidney cells are typically grown on flat plastic or glass surfaces in a static nutrient broth, an unrealistic growth environment which can potentially affect cell function and physiology.
To create a more accurate environment, Else Frohlich, Draper Fellow and Boston University graduate student, and her advisors fabricated a plastic and silicone rubber microdevice comprised of a textured growth surface and a microfluidic chamber. The growth surface, lined wit
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