Researchers at Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed an advanced system on a chip that includes heart, bone, liver and skin tissue in independent niches that are linked to simulated vascular flows. The system even includes immune cells that circulate in the simulated vasculature. The technology represents advances in organ systems on a chip, as it allows scientists to study the effects of drugs or interventions on multiple organs simultaneously. In addition, since all engineered tissues are created using induced pluripotent stem cells derived from a blood sample, this may allow for customized medicine.
A number of research institutions around the world have developed various unique devices, but the creation of multi-organ systems remains a challenge. After all, every organ in the body enjoys a unique environment that suits it best, even though it is connected to other organs through circulation. Recreating these niches on a chip while allowing communication between them is a huge task, but it seems that these researchers have broken it after a lot of hard work.
“This is a huge achievement for us – we spent ten years conducting hundreds of experiments, researching countless great ideas and building many prototypes, and now we have finally developed this platform that successfully captures the biology of organ interactions in the body,” Gordana said. Vunjak-Novakovic, one of the developers of the new platform.
The chip is the size of a glass slide and contains bone, skin, heart and liver tissues that the researchers have chosen, as all of these tissues experience significant side effects during cancer therapy. Therefore, the system is a method of testing whether a particular patient will tolerate specific cancer therapy.
“Ensuring communication between tissues while preserving their individual phenotypes is a major challenge,” said Casey Ronaldson-Bouchard, another researcher involved in the study. “Because we focus on the use of patient-derived tissue models, we must individually mature each tissue so that it functions in a way that mimics the reactions you would see in a patient, and we do not want to sacrifice this enhanced functionality when we connect many tissues. ”
“In the body, each organ maintains its own environment while interacting with other organs through a vascular flow carrying circulating cells and bioactive factors. So we chose to connect the tissues through vascular circulation, while maintaining each individual tissue niche that is needed to maintain its biological fidelity, mimicking the way our organs are connected in the body.
Learn in Natural biomedical engineering: Multi-organ chip with mature tissue niches connected by vascular flow
through: Columbia University