Putting cells through their paces
Pharmaceutical development depends on mouse models or on two-dimensional cultures for testing the potential effectiveness of a drug before progressing to expensive human trials. However, the system is far from perfect and failure rates when testing effectiveness in humans can be very expensive.
Technology to create tissue and organs “on-a-chip” is at the forefront of medical research aimed at replicating what is going on in our bodies. But so far, while researchers around the world have been working to perfect the action of whole organs in a micro-fluidic chip environment, Professor Stewart says the accuracy of such models in being able to “fail” potential drugs is yet to be proven. “There are many aspects of organ-on-a-chip technology that remain a matter of belief rather than of evidence,” he says.