Organ-on-a-chip: an alternative for animal testing

Organ-on-a-chip: an alternative for animal testing

One of the most frequently discussed ethical topics in biology and the medical world is the usage of animals for the development of new kinds of medicine. Finally, it seems like there might be an end to this discussion, as techniques are being developed that have the potential the replace animal testing. It is not very likely that testing on animals will be fully replaced by these new technologies within a couple of years, but this might happen on the long run. An example of a technique which replaces tests that would originally be carried out on animals is organ-on-a-chip. As the name is already suggesting, this chip mimics an organ.

The benefits of organ-on-a-chip technology

Organ-on-a-chip offers scientists to examine the effects of a substance on an organ without having to harm animals. In fact, there are even more benefits to this principle, such as:

  • Lower fluid consumption, which reduces research costs and waste production
  • The organ-on-a-chip allows scientist to be in control of the processes to a large extent
  • The fabrication costs are very low
  • Many different types of tissues can be mimicked using this technology

Organ-on-a-chip applications are one of the fastest growing fields of research within life sciences and the pharmaceutical industry. The developments allow researchers to perform experiments in a revolutionary new manner.

Future possibilities

With organ-on-a-chip, several types of organs can be mimicked. In the future it might even be possible to combine all of these organs-on-a-chip into an entire human-on-a-chip. Although this might sound like science fiction, scientists are already exploring these possibilities. If all of the human organs could be contacted with each other on micro-scale, the organ-on-a-chip will no longer be isolated. Interactions between organs will make this model of the human body even more realistic.

Organ-on-a-chip: an alternative for animal testing