The new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health will oversee $70 million in grants over 5 years to help develop tissue-chip culture systems for drug screening. The hope is that by incorporating multiple human cell types, these systems will be more predictive than animal models, which fail to predict human toxicity in approximately 30 percent of drugs tested.
Ten of the awards will go to the development of chips representing different organ systems such as the lung, liver, heart, and even brain. The remaining seven are reserved for developing organ and tissues systems from stem cells and progenitor cells that are then differentiated into the desired tissue. This strategy has the added benefit of developing tissue with the appropriate architecture.
Many of the projects will aim to mimic not only an organ system, but also a disease state that can affect that organ, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, and gastrointestinal disease. (Hat tip to GenomeWeb.)