Organs-on-chips is the best design of 2015, according to London’s Design Museum, but it has the potential of being so much more than that.
The Organs-on-chips invention is a small transparent silicone chip about the size of a small computer memory card that can actually mimic the activity of human organs. It is lined with actual human cells, specific to the organ it mimics, and it can simulate normal organ function. But it can also simulate the organ’s reaction to bacteria or other intruders when they are introduced in the organs-on-chips system.
The most important field that this invention can be introduced to is experimental work. The Organs-on-chips has the potential of replacing the testing conducted on animals, at least to some extent. This would be an amazing breakthrough, because it could offer a cruelty-free means of testing newly discovered drugs and treatments, but also a much cheaper one.
This is the main reason why the Organs-on-chips has been awarded the title of “Design of the Year”, because its potential is enormous. It could change the face of scientific experimenting forever and obviously, it makes for a pretty interesting art piece as well.
“They identified a serious problem: how do we predict how human cells will behave. And they solved it with elegance and economy of means, putting technology from apparently unrelated fields to work in new ways.” says London Design Museum director, Deyan Sudjic.
The creators of this marvelous technology are a team of scientists from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute, and their invention is meant to offer a bio-inspired alternative to the current methods employed in research, that could constitute a sustainable method that could be used for many years to come.
The Organs-on-chips microsystems could simulate lung, heart, kidney, liver function and many other organs’. For instance, the Lung-on-a-chip perfectly displays lung physiology and also its physiopathology, when bacteria is introduced. It can move small quantities of the same substances that are found in the human organ through its inner network, pretty much the same way that a similar computer chip passes electric energy through it.
If Organs-on-chips could actually replace animal testing, it would truly make the world a better place, because it could put an end to animal suffering in the name of science, but it could also make for better test models, since it is lined with actual human cells. This extraordinary invention perfectly embodies the “Reduce, Replace and Refine” principle that is meant to drive scientist to discover better and less cruel ways of testing products for human use.
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