Scientists create tiny lung-on-a-chip for drug research

Oct 11, 2010

Researchers have developed a tiny lung-on-a-chip that will be used to conduct drug research. The chip is dubbed the ersatz lung and it has an artificial alveolus on the chip along with channels that the researchers can uses to create a vacuum and then release that vacuum forcing the alveolus to contract and expand as real lung tissue would.

An alveolus is the tiny air sack inside the lung where the majority of the oxygen exchange happens in the body. The new chip is designed to allow researchers to test drugs on simulated health and diseased lung tissue. One side of the chip has features that mimic healthy lung tissue and capillary walls.

The other end of the chip has features that mimic capillary walls and lung-cancer cells. Researchers in the project hope that within a few years they will be able to develop a chip that will be able to mimic the process of actually exchanging air for carbon dioxide within the lungs.

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