The fight to prevent diseases, detect them in time and treat them efficiently to save lives is the engine that boosts scientists and researchers around the world. Prodigious minds have contributed to the development of technological devices, programs and advanced mechanisms in this field.
Engineer James Hickman, from the biotechnology firm Hesperos based in Orlando, Florida, developed a chip equipped with “five cameras to host different types of cells, connected by channels where a nutritive solution circulates to mimic the blood flow.”
It is the first multi-organ system on a single chip that will be used to evaluate how a drug and its chemical derivatives affect the target cells (those to which the drug is targeted), as well as other tissues.
The information was released at the end of June of this year in the online publication Science Translational Medicine. “Until now, to be able to measure efficiency and toxicity in the same system, we have to resort to an animal model,” Hickman said.
The new chip developed by the engineer would allow the patient’s own cells to be used in the device and to test different medications or drug combinations to determine which is the most appropriate treatment for each person, according to the body’s response.
Hickman and his colleagues were able to demonstrate the effects of different drugs on cancer cells, heart and liver cells. In their device with bone marrow cancer cells, “they introduced the drugs imatinib and diclofenac and thereby slowed the growth of cancer, but they observed how diclofenac also destroyed the liver cells.”
By using a different preparation, tamoxifen eliminated breast cancer cells, attacked vulvar cancer cells (a rare type of cancer that forms on the external genitalia of women) and resistant to drugs.
The tests allowed them to conclude that the device can expose the beneficial and harmful effects of the drugs in addition to adjusting the necessary doses without resorting to a test subject.