Researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology and Institute for Biotechnology at the Technical University of Berlin have developed a microfluidic chip that allows life scientists to mimic different metabolic processes of human and animal bodies. The hope is that many experiments that currently require animals will be performed using the new technology, soothing the nerves of an entire population of animal rights folks.
The device scales down, and of course simplifies, the human body at a 1:100,000 ratio. There are different chambers within which colonies of cells can be placed and cell culture media pumped through the system to simulate the circulatory system. The device is actually a template that allows different configurations of chambers and channels to be built specifically to the needs of every experiment.
Though similar devices have been built, this particular one is capable of the lowest flow rates of .5 microliters per second, allowing for much more precise control of the environment. Additionally, it can do this continuously for long periods of time, prolonging the active lifetime of the cells within the chambers.
Fraunhofer: Mini synthetic organism instead of test animals…