Human Organs On Chips — DARPA Scaling Down Your Body To Size Of A USB Drive

Organs on chips
The lung on a chip (Image credits: ZDNet)

Short Bytes: DARPA wanted to create a miniaturised version of a human body part and for the same purpose, the Wyss Institute was chosen and funded around $37m. Wyss has successfully replicated the working functionality of a human lung and in the future, they are planning to come with tailor-made human organs on chips for different industries.

Currently in the medical field, the medicine testing is done on the animals. Well, those tests are mostly external tests and skin tests but we are still unsure about a new drug that how it would affect a human liver or lung.

The Wyss Institute at Harvard is almost closer to solving these problems. They are creating miniaturised versions of human organs like lungs, heart, liver etc. which can be used for the specific drug testing in the future.

The story goes back to 2012 when DARPA wanted to create a miniaturised version of the human body parts. They wanted various working chips replicating human body parts and when these all put together they can function like a human body.

For this particular project, DARPA was ready to pay $37m and finally, this project was given to the Wyss institute at Harvard.

Human organs are one of the most complicated things to replicate because of cell, tissues, working environment, complex connections and more structural complexities. But still, Wyss institute was able to make a working model of a human body which is of the size of a USB drive.

The organs on chips connect all the organs through the main channel running through them and that organ is made up of the silicon rubber with one main channel running through it.

Further, the channel is divided into two chambers with a porous membrane in between which can be said as working as an interface between two tissues.

This membrane, in the real human body, helps in exchanging liquid and air like absorbing oxygen and exchanging carbon dioxide. However, this thin silicon membrane is controlled by a computer rather than being a breathing-controlled automated tissue.

They have successfully been able to replicate a lung’s behaviour on the chip. There are two side channels for suctioning air and separate them from the main channel by using a thin polymer. They can also replicate the rate at which humans breathe.

In the coming future, Wyss institute plans to make organs on chips more specific — for example, being specifically made for pharmaceutical, cosmetic, or chemical companies specific needs.

Also Read: First Human Head Transplant Is Soon Going To Be Performed By This Doctor

Amar Shekhar

Amar Shekhar

A passionate adventure traveller over and Author of the book 'The Girl from the Woods'.
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