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Wednesday, 13 October 2010 15:08

"Heart-Lung Micromachine" for drug safety testing receives funding

Harvard bioengineers have been awarded $3.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (NIH-FDA) to develop a "Heart-Lung Micromachine". The device will accelerate drug safety and efficacy testing.

Harvard bioengineers have been awarded more than $3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (NIH-FDA) to develop a "Heart-Lung Micromachine" that will accelerate drug safety and efficacy testing.

The research will be led by Donald E. Ingber, Founding Director of the Wyss Institute; Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS); Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology, Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston; and Kit Parker, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at SEAS and a core member of the Wyss Institute.

The project is one of four winners selected as part of an unprecedented effort by the NIH and FDA to work together on the critical public health issue of advancing regulatory science. Regulatory science involves the development and use of the scientific knowledge, tools, standards, and approaches necessary to assess medical product safety, efficacy, quality, potency, and performance.

The Heart-Lung Micromachine will be based on novel technology that combines microfabrication techniques from the computer industry with modern tissue engineering techniques, human cells, and a vacuum pump to replicate the complex physiological functions and mechanical microenvironment of a breathing lung and beating heart. These capabilities will enable the microdevice to provide accurate and immediate measures of the efficacy and safety of inhaled drugs, nanotherapeutics, and other medical products on integrated lung and heart function, all at a fraction of the time and cost involved in traditional animal testing methods. Such methods can take years to complete and often cost as much as $2 million for a single drug compound.

The micromachine will build on recent groundbreaking work by Ingber and Parker in developing the technology for building tiny, complex, three-dimensional models of human organs. These "organs on chips" mimic the complicated mechanical, cellular, and biochemical functions of specific organs, such as the lung. The proposed heart-lung device will mark a new milestone by combining two different organ systems within a single microsystem for the first time.

More information you will find on the website of Harvard School of Engeneering and Applied Sciences.