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‘Human body on a chip’ research receives funding

01 August 2012

Researchers receive funds to develop a technology platform that will mimic human physiological systems in the laboratory, using an array of engineered human tissue constructs.

The BIO-MIMETICS programme (image courtesy of MIT)
The BIO-MIMETICS programme (image courtesy of MIT)

Researchers in the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will receive up to $32m over the next five years from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a technology platform that will mimic human physiological systems in the laboratory, using an array of integrated, interchangeable engineered human tissue constructs. 

A cooperative agreement between MIT and DARPA worth up to $26.3m will be used to establish a new programme titled “Barrier-Immune-Organ: MIcrophysiology, Microenvironment Engineered Tissue Construct Systems” (BIO-MIMETICS) at MIT, in collaboration with researchers at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, MatTek Corp. and Zyoxel Ltd.

The BIO-MIMETICS programme will combine technologies developed at MIT, Draper Laboratory, MatTek and Zyoxel to create a versatile microfluidic platform that can incorporate up to ten individual engineered human microphysiological organ system modules in an interacting circuit.

The modules will be designed to mimic the functions of specific organ systems representing a broad spectrum of human tissues, including the circulatory, endocrine, gastrointestinal, immune, integumentary, musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive, respiratory and urinary systems.

The goal of the programme is to create a versatile platform capable of accurately predicting drug and vaccine efficacy, toxicity, and pharmacokinetics in pre-clinical testing. The BIO-MIMETICS team anticipates that the platform will be suitable for use in regulatory review, amenable to rapid translation to the biopharmaceutical research community, and adaptable for integration of future technologies (such as advances in stem cell technologies and personalised medicine).  

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