Tiny, artificial lung helps scientist test drugs

US researchers have begun testing drugs using a microchip lined with living cells that replicates many of the features of a human lung, a technology that may one day help improve drug testing and reduce researchers' dependence on animal studies.

In 2010, researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering developed the so-called lung-on-a-chip technology that mimics the function of air sacs called alveoli, which transfer oxygen through a thin membrane from the lung to the blood.

For drug companies, the technology offers a way to better predict how drugs will work in people, ultimately reducing the cost of drug development by identifying problems before drugs are tested in clinical trials.

"Major pharmaceutical companies spend a lot of time and a huge amount of money on cell cultures and animal testing to develop new drugs, but these methods often fail to predict the effects of these agents when they reach humans," Dr. Donald Ingber, whose study was published on Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine, said in a statement.

Now the Wyss team is putting its artificial lung to the test, using the device to recreate pulmonary edema, a condition that causes fluid to leak into the air sacs of the lungs, and then treating it with an experimental drug from GlaxoSmithKline.

The device, which is about the size of a memory stick, is made of a flexible polymer that contains hollow channels.

These channels are divided by a thin, permeable membrane lined on one side with human lung cells and on the other with tiny blood vessel or capillary cells that are bathed in fluid to simulate blood flow. A vacuum is applied to recreate the way human tissue stretches during breathing.

For the study, the team treated the device with interleukin-2 or IL-2, a cancer drug that can cause pulmonary edema, a deadly condition in which the lungs fill with fluid and blood forms clots.

When injected into the blood channel of the device, the drug caused fluid to start leaking across the membrane, reducing the amount of volume of air in the other channel. Blood plasma crossed into the air channels and started to clot.

Dr. Geraldine Hamilton, co-author on the paper and the senior lead for the organs on chips programme at Wyss, said the study is "providing us with a very exciting proof of concept for our ability to use organs on chips to create human disease models."

When the team turned on the vacuum to simulate breathing, fluid leakage increased, suggesting that breathing may make the condition worse.

"We learned more about the mechanisms by which this happens. Than really wouldn't have been possible through an animal model," Hamilton said.

The team next used their model to test a new class of drug being developed by GlaxoSmithKline called a TRPV4 channel blocker. They found that treating the tissues in the device with the Glaxo drug before exposing it to IL-2 prevented blood vessel leakage in the device.

To confirm this finding, Kevin Thorneloe, a scientist at GlaxoSmithKline, did a parallel study in which he tested the drug in the lungs of rodents and dogs with pulmonary edema caused by heart failure and found the drug improved lung function and reduced leakage, consistent with the chip finding.

"These findings suggest that TRPV4 blockers could be used to limit pulmonary edema in patients with heart or lung disease, and were an important step toward validating the lung on a chip model," said Thorneloe, whose companion study was published in the same journal.

"This technology is still in its early stages of development," he said, noting that several additional studies will be needed to further validate the chip device.

Although initially, such devices will be used to support early research seeking to get a better understanding of disease at the molecular level, Thorneloe said over time, they could be used to quickly study the impact of several drugs on lung function.

In July, Wyss entered a $37 million agreement with the US defence department to help develop 10 engineered organs, all linked into one system.

The idea is to replicate a human body on a chip, which could be used to rapidly assess responses to new drugs and potential chemical threats.

Donna Dambach, a pre-clinical safety scientist at Roche's Genentech unit, said she thinks drug companies will be quick to adopt these technologies for their own internal decision-making.

But Dambach said it will likely take much longer for drug companies to replace animal models used for regulatory approval with these engineered organs.

"I think everyone would love that, but animals are complex, like human beings, and we really have to make certain that we're at least predicting some level of that complexity in these systems."

Purchase this article for republication.

VIDEOS YOU SHOULD WATCH

  • #Joeyjios: We try bubble tea mala hotpot and bubble tea toast

    Full story: http://www.asiaone.com/food/we-try-bubble-tea-mala-hotpot-and-bubble-tea-toast-guess-which-ones-got-us-hooked Mala and bubble milk tea within the same hotpot? What about bubble tea on toast? Who even comes up with these ideas?! This week on #Joeyjios, we give these dubious food creations a taste-test to see if they're worth your time, money and calories. #bubbletea #bbt #boba --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Thirstdays: Where we talk weird dates and wild fantasies

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/entertainment/thirstdays-where-we-talk-weird-dates-and-wild-fantasies Ooo, it's been a hot week and the thirst is real at AsiaOne. Join Le En and Bryan as they chat about weird dates, constant 'cravings', and Beyonce's thigh gap! And they are quenching that thirst with a cup of root beer float to celebrate the return of a certain fast food restaurant. Thirstdays is a fortnightly AsiaOne #entertainment series where our hosts Le En and Bryan give you a peek into their personal lives while they satisfy their thirst over a drink, have a no-holds-barred chat, and do fun things. #gossip #confessions #realness --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Don't Say Cannot Ep4: He beats people up, but for the country

    Full story: http://www.asiaone.com/singapore/dont-say-cannot-delinquent-national-wrestler He used to beat people up, simply because he had "too much energy" to expend. Now, he still beats people up - but for the country. Meet 24-year-old #Singapore national wrestler Toh Xin Ran. Seeing the number of medals that he has been awarded and the respectful manner in which he now interacts with his wrestling coach, it is hard to imagine that Xin Ran used to be a troubled kid in his younger days. #wrestling #sportsman --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • #Joeyjios: Taste-testing The Alley Luxe and CHICHA San Chen

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/food/alley-luxe-and-chicha-san-chen-opens-week-heres-what-try A Michelin-standard bubble tea for $4.70? A drink that looks like the Northern Lights? This week, #Joeyjios her colleague Le En to check out two new bubble tea (BBT) stores that are opening along Orchard Road. Which will they prefer? Watch to find out. #Thedeerishere #TheAlley #Chichasanchen #Boba --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Office Tea Episode 5: Bosses and Things

    It’s been a few weeks - let’s find out if the higher-ups of AsiaOne have any regrets about hiring Le En. Efforts were made to make nice, charity is involved and work is never-ending still. Follow and subscribe so you won't miss a single episode of our new series, Office Tea! To catch more of her antics, follow her @goofy_feline! --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • #Joeyjios: DIY your way into mum's heart this Mother's Day

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/women/joeyjios-diy-your-way-mums-heart-mothers-day Mother’s Day is this Sunday! Have you gotten mum a gift yet? This week on #Joeyjios, Joey tries her hand at DIY projects that’s thoughtful, useful and inexpensive. #Mothersday #DIY --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Don't Say Cannot Ep3: He 'sees' the world with the help of tech

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/dont-say-cannot-he-may-be-blind-he-can-text-faster-you Edwin Khoo, 43, surprises friends with the speed at which he types on his phone. The reason? He's been blind since birth. But #technology has been the game-changer for Edwin in navigating the world around him despite his #disability, allowing him to #travel and even host his own online #podcast. --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Office Tea Episode 4: The Dress Code

    It’s in the employee handbook - but does ANYONE actually read and follow the dress code? Are calves too scandalous? Le En puts on Athleisure and tries to get away with it! Follow and subscribe so you won't miss a single episode of our new series, Office Tea! To catch more of her antics, follow her @goofy_feline! --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Caryn Cheng finds the best deals at IMM's Greater Savings Home and Furnishing Sale

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/5-couples-share-most-expensive-items-they-have-ever-bought-their-home AsiaOne challenges Caryn Cheng to find the best deals at the upcoming #IMM Greater Savings Home and Furnishing #Sale. IMM's Greater Savings Home & Furnishing Sale will start May 13 to 19. With 20 per cent off storewide at Best Denki and discounts of up to 50 per cent at stores such as INKAGU Outlet by Picket & Rail, Linen Gallery Outlet and Red Apple from May 17 to 19, this epic sale is not to be missed. Address: 2 Jurong East Street 21, Singapore 609601 Opening hours: 10am to 10pm #brandedcontent --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • #Joeyjios: I try a ballet-inspired workout despite my two left feet

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/joeyjios-i-try-ballet-inspired-workout-despite-my-two-left-feet Tendu, Arabesque and Grand Pliés? This week on #Joeyjios, I found out that these are in fact, not edible food dishes, but dance moves in ballet.  Watch as former professional ballerinas and co-founders of #BalletBody, Lisha Chin and Alison Carroll, take me through a snippet of their hour-long ballet-inspired workout while I try my best to keep up.  #Ballet #Barre #Fitness --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com

SERVICES