Can Liver-Chip Reduce the Number of Animals Sacrificing Their Lives?

Pharma Tech Outlook: Pharma Tech Magazine

Can Liver-Chip Reduce the Number of Animals Sacrificing Their Lives?

Stacey Smith, Pharma Tech Outlook | Monday, July 20, 2020

Scientists have devised a new innovation that will help in new drug development and reduce the number of animals used in pre-clinical tests.

FREMONT, CA: Low liver toxicity is a big roadblock that drug candidates have to demonstrate prior to being utilized as therapeutic medication. This testing is generally performed using animals, including dogs and rodents, with livers that are not quite similar to humans. Though animal studies are beneficial, they usually result in misleading knowledge, which is not realized until long into the process of drug development. Many times, patients are harmed by such drug candidates when liver toxicity is not properly analyzed ahead of time.

Recently, a group of scientists has come up with a device called Liver-Chip, which can replicate how a liver responds to various compounds. This response can be conveniently observed utilizing the device in real-time. This technology is originally developed at Harvard’s Wyss Institute and helps in accelerating the new drug development, proving the drug compounds' safety and decreasing the number of animals that are being subjected to pre-clinical studies.

The transparent device has parallel microchannels within that possess living channels on the interior. The channels and the kinds of living cells that are kept inside essentially redevelop organs at their very basic level, which works very well with livers and is made up of millions of identical components. 

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By providing different chemical compounds with the media that the cells require, it is possible to see the living cells’ response inside using a microscope. 

Seeded with dog, rat, or human liver cells, the Liver-Chip was tested to assess whether compounds known to be harmful to livers will act in a similar way within the device. The device was even able to demonstrate that FIAU, a compound, is toxic to human livers, which is less to those of dogs and rats. 

This innovation is a big achievement for the Organ Chip field as it demonstrates this technology’s power to offer insight into human-relevant responses where present pre-clinical animal models generally fail.

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