About 18 months ago we reported on Sony’s foray into the life-sciences space with the acquisitions of Micronics Inc. and three other companies working on micro-fluidic, lab-on-chip diagnostic technologies. This week, Sony Digital Audio Disc Corporation announced high profile collaboration with Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering to advance their pioneering organ-on-chip technologies.
The organ-on-chip technologies in question have previously graced the pages of Medgadget and refer to flexible polymer substrates, which contain hollow micro-fluidic channels lined by living human cells. These systems act as surrogate, lab-friendly organs which allow researchers to study the physiological and mechanical behavior of the cells in real-time. The hope is that these surrogate organs will allow for an accelerated and lower cost means of studying drug interactions in humans without the need for animal studies.
According to the Wyss Institute press release there are now a number of these organ-on-chips devices in development with lung, heart, liver, kidney, bone marrow, and gut-on-a-chip systems already in the works. Clearly, Sony sees a role for their growing stable of microfluidics and manufacturing technologies in the evolution of these new-age organs. However, they are only the latest in a series of major backers for the project with the FDA, the NIH and DARPA already supporting the effort. We will be watching this very one closely.