“Organ-On-A-Chip” May Put PETA Out Of A Job

    July 30, 2012
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

There are people, including those in PETA, who vigorously protest the use of animals in clinical trials. Many scientists understand why the practice is hated and would probably switch to something else if they could. In their mind, it’s more humane to use animals instead of humans when testing new drugs. Like all problems, however, science may have found a solution.

Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering are currently developing what they call an “organ-on-a-chip.” It’s exactly as it sounds as researchers are now building microchips that behave like human organs. If successful, scientists will be able to run clinical simulations on these simulated organs to determine the effects certain drugs will have on the human body.

The video below explains the first of these “organs-on-a-chip” with a microchip that mimics the functions of a human lung. It’s lined with real cells so researchers will be able to how new medicines affect these organs as if they belonged to a human.

Lung on a Chip — Wyss Institute from Wyss Institute on Vimeo.

The most amazing thing about this breakthrough is when they introduce white blood cells and bacteria into the “lung.” All the cells behave just like they would in a real lung thus proving that these “organs” could one day replace testing on living beings.

Of course, the law requires that all medicine go through actual human testing as well before being sold. The “organ-on-a-chip” just allows researchers to test new drugs without having to potentially harm animals in the process. If the technology takes off, we’ll only have to start worrying about robotic rights groups protesting the use of silicon in medical testing.

[h/t: Science Friday]

  • Johnhand


  • Nate

    There are some fundamental limitations to this, initially. Most importantly, it negates the effect of hormone responses to different environmental changes. Certainly, the researchers can induce different hormones to initiate different responses, but these wouldn’t be considered sound research methods (researchers can pick and choose which hormone responses they want to trigger), however this can be advantageous if they are wanting to know how specific hormones create different reactions. The human body is mind-blowingly complex, and while this technology may hold promise; it may be years, decades and possibly millenia before it is able to accurately replicate the human, or animal body.

  • stephen

    Seriously? There is still plenty of animal abuse going on in the world, and this is only one step in the right direction. End factory farming, then we’ll talk.

  • claire

    I’m pretty sure the end of vivisection would be something that PETA and other animal rights groups would celebrate! And if the day comes when all animal abuse is finally ended, they would be even happier to be put out of a job entirely!!!

  • Robyn Jane Sheppard

    This won’t put PETA out of a job. There are still so many animals left for them to kill.

  • captain obvious

    Is it just me or does this sound eerily like the infant stages of a hyperalloy combat chassis, microprocessor controlled, fully armored, very tough. But outside it’s living human tissue. Flesh, skin, hair, blood, grown for the cyborgs.