Solange Massa, a medical doctor who graduated at Universidad Austral, is a Research Fellow at the Khademhosseini Lab (Harvard-MIT Health Sciences & Technology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School), and, for the past two years, she has been part of the team for the X.C.E.L (Defense Threat Reduction Agency) project, engineering “organs on a chip” for drug testing.
“In the pharmaceutical industry, it is common to use animals to test the adverse effects of drugs. Animal models often prove inappropriate or poorly efficient to test some drugs, which leads to severe issues when the process reaches the clinical phase for humans,” Solange explained.
Organ-on-a-chip platforms are engineered using human cells and biomaterials to create “small artificial organoids” that mimic human organ functions in order to reduce or replace animal testing in the pharmaceutical industry.
“Every one of our chips imitates the workings of a specific organ –like the heart or liver- and is connected via artificial blood vessels that carry a blood-like substitute. This system is later tested with several drug doses to predict the toxic effect of a specific drug on human bodies,” said Solange.
In the future, these “chips” will be customized to test how every single individual reacts to a specific drug. This would help to build more accurate predictions of drug effects as well as to advance towards animal-free pharmaceutical testing.
Source: School of Biomedical Sciences