The drug, the test and the chip

An innovative approach for drugs development could make animal testing obsolete


How can we better predict how new medications act in the human body? This was the main question when we started our FET Open project Body on a Chip (BoC) in 2012. Too many new and promising drugs fail in very late stages of the development process because they are not efficient or produce unwanted – sometimes even dangerous – side effects. The Swiss company InSphero AG developed sand-grain-sized 3D microtissues which mimic human organs like the liver, the pancreas or tumours to solve this problem.


Our BoC project took the technology a step further. We created a polymer microfluidic chip which connects different 3D micro-organs and creates an abstract version of a human body, on a chip. This is how we can now test drugs on organ networks, instead of single organs, to better understand how they affect the human body as a whole. It means that animal testing in the future might become obsolete – or at least substantially reduced. Our work was also internationally recognised by Global 3Rs Awards program and NC3R‘s.




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