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Organ-on-chip technology enters next stage as experts test hepatitis B virus

Date: 14.2.2018 

Scientists at Imperial College London have become the first in the world to test how pathogens interact with artificial human organs. 
Kredit: Marcus Dorner/Imperial College London.

Artificial human organs, or organ-on-chip technologies, simulate a whole organ's cell make up and physiology. They act as alternatives to animal models in drug safety testing, but until now they have not been used to test how infectious diseases interact with the organs.

Now, researchers from Imperial are using this technology to determine how pathogens interact with artificial organs. They hope it will help us to better understand the resulting disease and develop new treatments.

In particular, the team used an artificial liver - originally developed at MIT, the University of Oxford, and biotechnology company CN Bio Innovations - and tested its response to hepatitis B virus infection.

Dr Marcus Dorner, lead author from Imperial's School of Public Health, said: "This is the first time that organ-on-a-chip technology has been used to test viral infections. Our work represents the next frontier in the use of this technology. We hope it will ultimately drive down the cost and time associated with clinical trials, which will benefit patients in the long run."

Hepatitis B virus is currently incurable, and affects over 257 million people worldwide. Development of a cure has been slow because there is no model system in which to test potential therapies.

 


 

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