A Mini Heart Has Been Developed On A Microchip!

By R. Siva Kumar - 21 Mar '15 19:23PM

A mini heart pulsates on a microchip, developed by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley.

Some tissue from stem cells can help researchers to predict if a certain drug will have an adverse effect on a patient, and how much dosage is required by a patient. This is the latest human organ to be developed after a lung, liver and a bit of the human intestine were "replicated under laboratory environment" according to thehindu.com.

If this technique succeeds, it is a major breakthrough, as it will replace the animal models that do not imitate human responses, according to the researchers.

"Many times doctors and researchers fail to predict a response to a certain drug or medicine because of the inaccuracy of the models used, like mice, that don't have the same reactions as human tissue," Anurag Mathur, lead author of the study and post doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley, was quoted as saying by Xinhua. The research was published by the journal Scientific Reports.

Millions of dollars are expected to be spent every year to make the drugs. The researchers opine that in five years the drugs will be used by all the doctors, according to newshunt.

Mathur created a tiny heart that is just about the width of a human hair with "human-induced pluripotent stem cells" forming diverse types of tissues. Most of these cells that had once been tricked into forming heart tissues were grown around a special silicon microchip with cell and media channels that imitated the heart's blood vessels. Feeding this bionic heart a blend of nutrients to keep it alive could make it work for almost a month.

"We were able to run multiple tests during this period, so we proved that this can be a viable solution to replace animal models," Mathur said. "It began beating only 24 hours after being developed at a normal rate of 50-80 beats per minute."

The device was used through drug screening that could not only save people but also save millions of dollars due to the high cost of calculating the approximate dose that was necessary for patients who had some heart problems.

It is an exciting breakthrough, as medicine will become "completely personalized" by such organs-on-a-chip. With one sample a patient will be able to have his heart modelled in a lab, with all the tests.

"Doctors will be able to predict how certain drugs react on specific patients, thus preventing many illnesses and loss of valuable time," Mathur said, adding that "I see this happening in five years in most of the doctor's offices."

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