There is no doubt we are in an era of personalized medicine where targets are not defined by the overarching disease but by genotypes, mutations, receptors and inhibitors. As disease modelling advances, so do drug development pipelines. What if our approach to clinical trials could be just as revolutionary?
A solution may be on the horizon to not only better predict human responses but also reduce time, cost and animal sacrifice within the traditional clinical trial process - organs-on-a-chip. Researchers have re-engineered microchips to function like living human organs. Each chip, similar in size to a memory stick, contains hollow channels lined by living human cells to mimic the microenvironment of organs. The hope is that by linking chips together researchers will be able to study human organ function and mimic human disease states that are poorly replicated in animal models. These chips also open up difficult to control research avenues like the impact of environmental factors on the respiratory system.
It’s important to acknowledge the technology is still in its infancy with many complexities to work though. Nonetheless an exciting advancement, with the potential to revolutionize healthcare.