Cardiac drug testing is a challenging business, potential subjects often being weak and not subject to clinical trials. Now researchers at UC Berkeley have developed an organ-on-a-chip device that hosts live human cardiac cells. The beating heart cells can be used as a safe test bed for testing a variety of different chemical compounds as potential drug targets for cardiac conditions.
Animal models are typically used to screen drugs for toxicity, but too often the results are not indicative of how humans respond to the same drugs. Moreover, just about anyone would love to see animals being phased out from pre-clinical testing and replaced with more compassionate and accurate methods. Since the new device hosts actual human cells, the results should be considerably more accurate than performing the same tests on animals with different cellular functionality.
The cells within the device were produced from induced pluripotent stem cells. They placed within the device that mimics the 3D structure of how cells naturally grow within the heart. The cells were layered and made to point in the same direction, while tubes going into and out of the device represent human vasculature that feeds and clears cellular networks.
Here’s a video of the heart cells beating within the organ-on-a-chip:
Study in Scientific Reports: Human iPSC-based Cardiac Microphysiological System For Drug Screening Applications…