AstraZeneca has taken a small step in reducing the need for traditional animal testing by signing on to evaluate Organs-on-Chips from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. Human Organs-on-Chips are composed of a clear, flexible polymer about the size of a computer memory stick, and contain hollow microfluidic channels lined by living human cells, allowing researchers to recreate the physiological and mechanical functions of the organ, and to observe what happens in real time.

AstraZeneca will apply the Institute’s advances in the development and validation of human Organs-on-Chips to develop new animal versions. These animal organs-on-chips will be tested alongside the human models to further understand the extent to which drug safety results in animals can predict how an investigational drug might impact humans.

“This collaboration with AstraZeneca will help us to validate this approach as a potential alternative to animal testing by carrying out direct comparisons between organ chips containing cells from animals versus humans in organ-mimicking environments,” said Wyss founding director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., who leads the Organs-on-Chips research program. “If successful, this effort should lead to ways to streamline the drug development process and more effectively predict safety of drugs and chemicals in humans.”

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