At Kyoto University in Japan researchers have created what they call an Integrated Heart/Cancer on a Chip (iHCC) that was designed to help discover side effects of anti-cancer and other medications. The microfluidic system, which is smaller than a common glass slide used with microscopes, consists of healthy myocardial cells populating some chambers and cancerous liver cells living in different chambers, each pair making up a unique line of testing. The chambers are connected to a pump that can control how fluids move through the system, allowing a liquid to circulate round. The idea is to simulate how blood circulates through the body.
Drugs can be introduced into the system and their effects on both cancerous and healthy cells analyzed. To evaluate the device and see if they can find some fresh scientific knowledge, the team introduced doxorubicin into the iHCC. The investigators also introduced doxorubicin to cultures of the same heart and cancer liver cells that remained separate from each other. Interestingly, the chemo agent killed liver cells but had little effect on the healthy heart cells that were isolated. The heart cells that were cultured inside the microfluidic chip and exposed to the same environment as the cancerous liver cells succumbed to the doxorubicin.
The researchers discovered that the difference was that cancer cells produced doxorubicinol as a metabolic byproduct of doxorubicin, which turns out to be toxic to cardiac cells. This finding is itself important and will certainly help to improve chemo therapy, while the Integrated Heart/Cancer on a Chip still has a lot more work to do in helping discover new drugs and avoid harmful compounds.
Via: Kyoto University…