Scientists are working on creating microchip human organs that may reduce the need for animal testing.

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, US, is laying the groundwork for microchips designed to imitate complicated human functions.

Director of the institute Donald Ingber said the eventual aim of the experiment is to have “a human body on chips”.

He said: “We use microchip manufacturing techniques to create tiny hollow channels, like a tunnel, that have a thin membrane across that have cells on one side.

“For example, the lung, they’ll have cells that line the air sacs on the top with air, and on the opposite side of the same membrane we have the cells that line the capillary blood vessels.

“We also have ways of making them breathe by having suction inside the channels; it’s all flexible material and so we actually recapitulate – it’s like a three-dimensional cross section of a living organ.”

So far, the team at Harvard University have made progress in recreating lungs, livers, guts, eyes and hearts, which could one day be replacements for animal testing, said Dr Ingber.

He said: “The idea is we’d be reducing animal testing by perhaps replacing one animal model at a time.

“And it’s not just for drugs, we have cosmetics companies we’re working with; we have chemical companies we’re working with.

“Because animal models are, more often than not, incorrect in terms of what they predict will happen in humans.”

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