March 27, 2012
Gut-On-A-Chip Microdevice For Faster Research

The future of biomedical research will happen with large numbers of very cheap small devices. Just like with computers.

Boston, MA -- Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created a gut-on-a-chip microdevice lined by living human cells that mimics the structure, physiology, and mechanics of the human intestine -- even supporting the growth of living microbes within its luminal space. As a more accurate alternative to conventional cell culture and animal models, the microdevice could help researchers gain new insights into intestinal disorders, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and also evaluate the safety and efficacy of potential treatments. The research findings appear online in the journal Lab on a Chip.

Biology's rate of progress is going to accelerate because biological research will be done with large numbers of cheap, small, automated chips.

Building on the Wyss Institute's breakthrough "Organ-on-Chip" technology that uses microfabrication techniques to build living organ mimics, the gut-on-a-chip is a silicon polymer device about the size of a computer memory stick.

Small stuff can be made cheaply in volume. With enough software to control it biological research will be controlled at computer consoles commanding large numbers of microfluidic devices. The cheapness, automation, and massive parallelism made possible by the chips will make experiment design and execution fast and easy.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 March 27 10:01 PM  Biotech Microfluidics

PacRim Jim said at March 27, 2012 11:15 PM:

Real-time monitoring of various biomarkers is at hand.
Now we can all be hypochondriacs.

R.K. said at March 28, 2012 12:37 PM:

Better not feed red meat to a crowd of these gut-on-a-chip devices or one out of ten of them will die early.

(Which is a sarcastic reference to that study out of Harvard which lamented the evils of red meat. If you want to avoid getting perturbed by another lame nutritional scare, read the transcript of Chris Kresser's podcast about the study, found at .)/a

bmack500 said at March 30, 2012 9:28 PM:

What I think would be interesting is a set of human organs, working together, encased in a translucent plastic (or some type of epithelium) complete with embedded monitoring devices.
Cloned organs, minus a sentient brain of course, working together for drug development. We could certainly identify unintended consequences faster that way.
Not an easy feat, of course, but give it time!

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