This month, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (a division of the US Department of Health & Human Services) awarded close to $6m in grants for research on tissue chips. The funding established Tissue Chip Testing Centers at Texas A&M University, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and at the University of Pittsburgh.
At Texas A&M University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, scientists will be testing tissue chips for the next two years. The chips in question were designed as part Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program, explains an item about the project on the NIH site.
The chips are three-dimensional devices where cells can survive (in a sort of tissue or organ structure, complete with blood flow) and respond to chemicals, finished product formulas, and such. “Tissue chips are bio-engineered devices that allow us to have cells that behave much closer to human organs,” Ivan Rusyn, a member of the research team at Texas A&M, tells Kristen Guilfoos of kbtx.com.
“As a toxicologist, I'm very passionate about new developments in the field and being able to use them to better address human health hazards,” Rusyn adds.
Building a useful database is the task of the team at the University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute. Mark E. Schurdak leads that informatics team. They are at work, “creating a Microphysiological Systems (MPS) Testing Database Center,” according to the NIH site. “Data generated by the TCTCs on diverse organ systems will be stored in the MPS Database. The MPS Testing Database Center also will develop and implement tools to evaluate the performance of the tissue chips, including their reproducibility and ability to predict clinically relevant drug responses.”
After two years of testing, data collection, and evaluation—should everything go well—Rusyn anticipates the tissue on chip technology will be available commercially for use in corporate labs “within five years,” as Guilfoos reports.