Have you ever heard of organ-on-a-chip? If you haven’t, you may soon. Researchers at Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University recently developed a model of the human small airway to help study lung inflammatory diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), outside of the body.
This development will help to “gain new insights into the disease mechanisms, identify novel biomarkers, and test new drug candidates”, without the invasiveness and costs associated with surgery. Additionally, the researchers also created a “microfluidic model of the lung small airway that recapitulates critical features of asthma and COPD”, which gives the team “a window on molecular-scale activities in the context of living human lung tissue.”
The team also noted that the organ-on-a-chip can be utilized as a discovery platform for disease-specific drugs and biomarkers. This means that “drugs targeting different key molecular components of inflammatory pathways can potently suppress pathological processes in asthma and COPD-tailored small airway chips.”
The organ-on-a-chip technology is helping to not only map out how COPD affects the human body, but how personalized treatments can be identified and created to help improve quality of life.