Feeds

Harvard bio-boffins build gut-on-a-chip

Micromachine for medicine research

The Power of One Infographic

Engineers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have built an experimental synthetic intestine using currently available chip technology.

The gut-on-a-chip is about the same size as a USB stick and consists of a central tube that is lined with a single layer of human intestinal epithelial cells to mimic the human body. There's space above and below the cells to simulate the blood flow outside the intestine, allowing scientists to monitor the reaction of chemicals as they pass through the intestinal wall.

micromachine gut

Handy for testing, useless for tripe

A vacuum controller expands and contracts the tunnel in a similar way to the actions performed by intestinal muscles to push the contents of the gut down and out. The team have also managed to culture intestinal flora that occur in humans and add them to the chip, to increase its realism as a testing tool.

"Because the models most often available to us today do not recapitulate human disease, we can't fully understand the mechanisms behind many intestinal disorders, which means that the drugs and therapies we validate in animal models often fail to be effective when tested in humans," said Wyss founding director, Dr. Donald Ingber, in a statement.

"Having better, more accurate in vitro disease models, such as the gut-on-a-chip, can therefore significantly accelerate our ability to develop effective new drugs that will help people who suffer from these disorders."

The Wyss Institute has made something of a specialism of creating miniature human organs. In 2010 the team came up with a similar lung-on-a-chip, and is currently developing a heart-lung micromachine to test drugs for humans. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.