What if we could estimate patient-specific side effects of a treatment before administering it?
Using microfluidics technology, researchers have been trying to reduce the structural complexity of organs, while still replicating the functionality. In a “organ-on-a-chip”, liquids are running through tiny fluidic channels, separated by membranes. The shape of the channels, as well as the type of cells seeded onto the membranes, determine how the liquids are mixed or separated, replicating the function of kidneys, lungs, skin, or the gut. In a organ-on-a-chip populated with the patient’s cells, it will become to test for patient-specific effects of a treatment – completely in vitro, without the need for testing in living animals or humans. With 3D printing, the design flexibility for the structure of the channels greatly improved over classical lithography masks.
The challenges posed by biological system are enormous, and the safety and reliability requirements of any medical application are strict.
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