In a London ceremony today, Wyss Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., received the NC3Rs 3Rs Prize from the UK's National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) for his innovative Lung-on-a-Chip -- a microdevice lined by human cells that recapitulates complex functions of the living lung.
"We believe that our human breathing Lung-on-a-Chip, and other organ chips we have in development, represent a first wave of exciting new alternative approaches to animal testing that hopefully will change how drug development is carried out in the future," Ingber said. "This award helps to validate this radical new approach on the global stage, and to strengthen our resolve to work with government agencies and pharmaceutical companies that have been supporting our work to pursue this alternative approach to animal testing."
The lung-on-a-chip offers a new in vitro approach to drug screening by mimicking the complicated mechanical and biochemical behaviors of a human lung. It is a small device the size of a memory stick composed of a clear, flexible polymer that contains hollow channels fabricated using computer microchip manufacturing techniques.
Two of the channels are separated by a thin, flexible, porous membrane that is lined on one side with human lung cells from the air sac, and exposed to air; human capillary blood cells from the lung are placed on the other side with medium flowing over their surface to mimic blood flow. A vacuum applied to side channels deforms this tissue-tissue interface to re-create the way human lung tissues physically expand and retract when breathing.