“Human on a Chip” Could Make Animal Testing Obsolete

Experimental microchip yields more reliable results and is less expensive than testing chemicals on animals.

Researchers at California’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory are testing a new computer chip that evaluates the effect of chemicals on the human body far more effectively than animal testing can. Officially called iCHIP (for “in-vitro Chip-based Human Investigational Platform”), the informally dubbed "Human on a Chip" replicates the cells of human organs and tissues obtained from organ donors. The cells are then exposed to chemicals, drugs, or toxins, and electrical signals are used to measure their impact on the central and peripheral nervous systems, the blood-brain barrier, and the heart. Kris Kulp, one of the project researchers, says that "animal testing can be more complicated and costly, whereas these chips can be much more reliable."

Photo courtesy of Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group

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