Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Chips with Everything

A mixture of cells growing on a tiny silicon platform mimic tissue enabling immunotherapy drug testing

04 November 2021

Chips with Everything

In recent years there has been a big rise in the use of immunotherapy for treating cancer – drugs that enable the immune system to recognise and destroy tumours. However, it can be difficult to test these treatments in the lab to make sure they’re safe. Common laboratory animals like mice and rats don’t have the same immune systems as human do, so they may not respond in the same way. And cells grown in plastic dishes don’t have an immune system at all. To solve this problem, researchers have created ‘organs-on-a-chip’ made from a mixture of healthy and immune cells growing on a tiny silicon platform, like the cells seen in this image. Their lung-on-a-chip and bowel-on-a-chip respond to immunotherapy in the same ways that real human organs do, revealing potential side effects from these treatments at an early stage and reducing the risk of safety problems in clinical trials.

Written by Kat Arney

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