Human-on-a-Chip: Future clinical drug trials may stop relying on humans altogether

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Disasters [in human drug trials] are rare. But also rare are clinical trials that go well: Ninety percent of drugs tested on humans do not work. These failures are an expensive but necessary part of the estimated $2.6 billion it costs to bring a medicine to market.

A lab in California is working on a more efficient and humane process, based on a quarter-size plastic slide. It’s a tiny replica of the human brain, rendered in clusters of about 300,000 cells surrounded by small copper wires. Based on that, Lawrence Livermore ­National Lab (LLNL) researchers have set out to build a comprehensive human body in miniature. Called the iChip, it could be the future of drug testing.

How iCHIP will test different aspects of a target drug. Credit: The Newsstack

How iCHIP will test different aspects of a target drug. Credit: The Newsstack

“Most people aren’t really thrilled with us injecting anything new into a human,” says Heather Enright, an iChip researcher. But testing drugs on animals instead provides limited information. For example, tumors develop differently in mice than they do in humans. With iChip, a dose of a new medication could be injected into the cells of a mini organ, and researchers could monitor the effects without harming live subjects.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: How to Conduct Human Drug Trials Without Needing Any Pesky Humans