A heartbeat in a chip

““This new programmable approach to building organs-on-chips not only allows us to easily change and customize the design of the system by integrating sensing but also drastically simplifies data acquisition,” said Johan Ulrik Lind, first author of the paper, postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and researcher at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.””–Via The first fully 3-D printed-heart-on-a-chip
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27 thoughts on “A heartbeat in a chip

  1. This post about “A Heartbeat in a Chip” is quite interesting. I was encouraged to do additional research about this subject and found an article from the Wyss Institute: “Human Organs-on-Chips.” According to the post, these chips are microchips that are lined with living human cells that in the future may revolutionize drug development, disease modeling and personalized medicine. Scientists have managed to create chips that simulate the function of numerous amounts of organs just like the lung, intestine, kidney, skin, bone marrow, and blood-rain barrier. The fact that technology has advanced significantly in the past years means a lot towards a project like this. Even though the cost is very high there are multiple factors that compensate its price. It is extremely interesting how scientist have managed to produce these chips that mimic functions of human organs. This could help cure diseases organ related and repair damaged organs. In my opinion, these chips eventually may lead to the possibility of other options besides organ transplants when the organ has been damaged to no return.

    “We took a game-changing advance in microengineering made in our academic lab, and in just a handful of years, turned it into a technology that is now poised to have a major impact on society.” – Donald Ingber

    https://wyss.harvard.edu/technology/human-organs-on-chips/

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    • In terms of model design, this is quite a breakthrough. With these chips scientists can design models without the need to destroy actual tissue. Science fiction of the last decade will become science facts of the next.

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  2. It really amazes me how 3d printing technology, such a new advancement, has innovated so rapidly that scientists are now able to create and simulate a heart the size of a chip. This chip was created by researchers at Harvard University and they wrote about the discovery in an article called “The first fully 3-D-printed heart-on-a-chip”. According to the article, the chips are built by an automatic 3d printer making it easy to fabricate and customize to collect data. Furthermore, the researchers also printed six different kinds of inks that integrated soft strain sensors within the microarchitecture of the tissue. Making this artificial organ possible can lead to new understandings of how it interacts in different kinds of simulations. This can be used to study how different bacterias/infections affect the heart or other tissues and how to fight them without actually damaging it. This article was really interesting to me since I’m interested in cardiology and seeing the technology right now being used to study different tissues and organs in the human body will have a positive outcome in the near future.

    Sources:
    http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/10/the-first-fully-3-d-printed-heart-on-a-chip/

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  3. It is truly remarkable how researchers at Harvard were able to develop a simulation of a beating heart in just a small chip. According to the Harvard article, this organs on a chip are called microphysiological systems, which match the properties of diseases or an individual patient’s cells. The chip contains various wells with separated tissues and integrated sensors, which enable researchers to study cardiac tissues. This advancement shows how technology is continuously revolutionizing the world of medicine with a variety of methods. Also, “A Heartbeat on a Chip” demonstrates that eventually scientists will be able to find a way to control or cure organ related diseases.

    http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/10/the-first-fully-3-d-printed-heart-on-a-chip/

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  4. The ability to reproduce a chip that can mimic both the structure and function of a human organ by means of 3D-printing is a huge step in human evolution. Scientists now have the means to run tests on things that more closely resemble humans. Not only does this technology help in the improvement of current medical procedures and drugs, but it opens the door to the discovery of many new and better means of treating diseases and syndromes affecting our population. Currently there are many drugs and procedures awaiting approval for testing on animals that haven’t been approved because of claims of animal cruelty or differences in compatibility. The production of 3D-printed chips or organs also greatly lowers the cost of testing because animals must be kept alive, fed and comfortable, things that cost large amounts of money especially when done in large scales and quantities. Since animals, like humans, are unique living beings, they are subject to a number of factors that may affect data such as levels of stress, allergies, and tolerance to the medicine or disease being tested, among others. The ability to control and customize the chips also allows for scientists to accurately test such specific biological variations, have a lower margin of error or need less tests in order to obtain the information or data needed. This type of technology may lead to extend or manipulate the human lifespan by assisting in the research, experimentation and production of drugs and medical procedures for the cure of diseases affecting us today.

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  5. What caught my attention about organs-on-chips was the fact that it could put an end to animal testing. Each year, millions of rats and mice die for the sake of human safety. Scientists studying toxicity in chemicals feed, inject, or spray them on animals to suss out potential ill effects. But Congress is now finally updating the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, which will among other things encourage the Environmental Protection Agency to find alternatives to animal testing, such as organs-on-chips. Though animal testing can’t still be completely banned, updating this act could potentially lead us to it. Apart from the fact that animal testing is inhumane, with organs-on-chips drugs can be tested on your own lung, heart, etc., getting more accurate results, instead of an animal’s or the “average person” being experimented on.

    Sources:
    https://www.wired.com/2016/06/chips-mimic-organs-powerful-animal-testing/
    https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/jun/22/the-end-of-animal-testing-human-organs-on-chips-win-design-of-the-year

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    • Great research, Adriana. This blew my mind. Tissue 3D printed on electrical substrates could help us understand in unprecedented ways how medicines work—especially in challenging fields such as immunology. This type of breakthrough, combined with CRISPR/Cas9 & recent development in AI, could lead to great science in the near future.

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  6. It is amazing how fast science is advancing and growing. This kind of chip may decrease animal testing, which is a very controversial topic. This particular chip may help in the pharmaceutical industry also, due to that, it can help create new treatments and medications for different kind of diseases or injuries. The chip could be programmed to mimic different heartbeat rhythms making it easier for testing new treatments. I hope scientist keep researching in this topic and create different chips to mimic different organs and tissues to help the field of medecine evolve.

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  7. This advancement is very interesting, seeing how a single chip has so many functions and is filled with so many descriptions. It would seem impossible for such a small object to obtain so much information, which in my opinion is what would be on the most impressive aspects of this creation. I noticed in a website called “Scientific American” that the currently created organs-in-chips are made based on organs that are essential for our survival and are the most important of our organ system: like the kidney, liver, lung, bone marrow, heart, and cornea. This website also provides information on how these chips are made and what these chips consist of. It explains how the chips have microfluidic tubes where blood, nutrients, and experimental drugs are pumped in so that scientists may monitor and see how these “organs” behave or adapt, which eventually helps in testing drugs and result in new effective treatment in real organs.

    A link of the “Scientific American” website for more information on the organs-in-chips: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/organs-on-chips-allow-new-views-of-human-biology/

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  8. It is impressive how quickly science is evolving and now with the implementation of 3-D printing, possibilities are endless. 3-D printing is a new way of artificially creating basically anything, there are 3-D printed models that are even edible. This heart-on-a-chip is just one of the many things that can be created to help collect data with 3-D printing without having to undergo animal testing. A very far fetched example of 3-D printing in science is the creation of fully functioning printed organs. As said in a CNN article: “For years now, medical researchers have been reproducing human cells in laboratories by hand to create blood vessels, urine tubes, skin tissue and other living body parts. But engineering full organs, with their complicated cell structures, is much more difficult. Enter 3-D printers, which because of their precise process can reproduce the vascular systems required to make organs viable. Scientists are already using the machines to print tiny strips of organ tissue. And while printing whole human organs for surgical transplants is still years away, the technology is rapidly developing.” Also Cornell University has recently created an artificial ear that is 3-D printed. Link to the article: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/04/03/tech/innovation/3-d-printing-human-organs/index.html

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  9. I was amazed to see how far technology has come these last few years. Who would have thought that this year we would already have invented heart in the form of chips, like sim cards. Not only that but now we dont have to do tests on animals, the torture we put these animals through for our own benefit instead of using other humans is now finally over. This chip can change the entire course of mankind if we take full advantage of this invention and can create other organs like it

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    • Mind blowing tech.

      It got me thinking about what will happen during the next 5 years. Always cautiously, though; I’m optimistic about this sci-fi zeitgeist, but also a bit shell-shocked — the burden of reading post-war sci-fi, I guess (and being part of the last generation that had a childhood before The Web).

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  10. It’s amazing how far science and technology have come. The fact that scientists have created a chip that can perfectly mimic the structure and function of a human heart is absolutely incredible and thanks to this we have an alternative to animal testing, which I think is great because animals don’t deserve such abuse. Now that this technology is available, other organs could be designed on chips and this will be beneficial to help find cures for different types of diseases.

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  11. A heart beat in a chip discovery is a very remarkable one. The way science has evolved during the past years is amazing and mind blowing. A great finding that scientists could use for the benefit of human beings. To think that scientists could one day mimic the function of various organs and tissues in a chip is incredible and could also help in the evolvement of medicine by having different ways of studying health and disease.
    In this site there is information of the use of stem cells for the production of personalized organs, very interesting.
    http://news.mit.edu/2016/organ-on-a-chip-0106

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  12. Technology never stops surprising me, I would have never thought that we could ever mimic the function of a heartbeat using 3D printing. This scientific breakthrough is really amazing because it would help stop animal testing by testing how the heartbeat reacts to such items being tested, Also, medicine trials will have a much safer and much more accurate way of finding cures. This really is amazing, can’t wait to see other breakthroughs in the near future.

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  13. This is truly amazing. I had never even thought about this type of technology, but now it exists, and could help scientists learn so much about human health. Technology has come a long way, from the first car, to the invention of the telephone, to the internet, and now to technology that will allow us to better understand human health. It truly is amazing, and makes you think about what is come in the future.

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  14. This kind of technology is essential for life and for human health . There is now a way where we can see things and learn thing that we have yet not seen. This is terrific because it puts you to think of all the good and essential inventions made up until now and makes you wonder of what could be of us and of technology in a couple of years. It all depends on our attitude and determination to do better things for the future. It can help us with many things now a days like in the pharmaceutical area like it is shown on this link. http://phys.org/news/2015-06-heartbeat-chip-pharmaceutical.html

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  15. It is amazing how scientific technology has evolved over the years. I would’ve never thought that a 3D printer could make a chip that would simulate a beating heart. These chips are also able to imitate bone, cartilage, and other tissues. They may help us better understand how organs work. Because they are synthetic replacements for human internals, they can be used for experiments such as animal testing. This remarkable design may just be the start of a scientific breakthrough.

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  16. I believe this is much better than animal testing. Since it mimics the physical rhythm of the human heart, it allows for futher understanding and an improvement in pharmaceutical tests. This new approach could lead to rapid production of customized chips with specific patient cells, which could allow doctors to study how an individual patient responds to certain drugs.

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  17. It is incredible, somewhat nerve racking, how a 3d chip can mimic a heartbeat, and many organs. I am glad animal testing has come to an end with the innovation of this technological advance in medicine. Now, drugs will be tested rapidly, and efficiently.

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  18. This new heart-on-a-chip is a revolutionary addition to modern science. It can accurately gather information on how human organs react to certain medicines and procedures. This new innovative creation can bring the inhumane practice of animal testing to an end since it’s more precise regarding how humans will specifically react a new substance. Not all animal testing is completely trustworthy because an animal’s pathophysiology is not completely similar to that of a human’s (http://www.wired.co.uk/article/heart-chip-harvard-sensors). Even though it is more expensive, I believe it is a worthwhile investment because it measures an accurate human reaction without any actual human testing additionally to not involving any animal abuse.

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  19. This is pretty groundbreaking. Not only from a technology perspective but from an ethical one. If this same concept is able to be broadened into other areas of science and health, the extinction of animal testing is within our reach. And, how accurate is animal testing exactly? http://www.peta.org/living/beauty/8-reasons-animal-testing-doesnt-help-humans/

    My only other concern, would be that this advancement is most likely not a cost efficient one. The next step would be to make it accessible to the entire population and not just the wealthy 1%.

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  20. If humans can already create a model of an artificial heartbeat, what is stopping them from creating any other organs? Maybe in a few years this can be the reality but right now the heartbeat in a chip is an extraordinary advance. This will certainly help multiple studies of the heart and improve life.

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