The NC3Rs annual 2013 3Rs Prize Awarded to Harvard researcher Dr. Ingber for his “lung on a chip” preclinical drug testing chip, designed to mimic normal lung function. The chip was designed to replace the need for an animal model to study lung tissues.
Here is the winning paper:
Huh D, Leslie DC, Matthews BD, Fraser JP, Jurek S, Hamilton GA, Thorneloe KS, McAlexander MA, Ingber DE (2012). A human disease model of drug toxicity-induced pulmonary edema in a lung-on-a-chip microdevice. Science Translational Medicine 4 (159): 159ra147.
The NC3Rs awards an annual prize for an original contribution to scientific and technological advances in the 3Rs in medical, biological or veterinary sciences published within the last three years. The prize is part of the Centre’s commitment to recognise and reward high quality research which has an impact on the use of animals in the life sciences. Sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, the prize consists of a grant of £18k, plus a personal award of £2k. Highly commended entries receive a £4k grant and £1k personal award.
A video with animation can be found here: http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpage/240/lungonachip
How the lung-on-a-chip works:
- Inside the microdevice are two parallel, sub-millimeter sized, hollow channels which are separated by a thin, flexible, porous membrane. This membrane is coated with matrix proteins that normally hold cells together in human tissues.
- One side of this membrane is lined with living human cells isolated from the air sac of a lung, and air is allowed to permeate into the channel to recreate the environment seen in a lung. The other side contains human lung capillary blood cells with a blood-like solution flowing over their surfaces.
- A vacuum applied to side chambers alongside the channels recreates the way our tissues physically expand and retract when we breathe.
- Recreating these conditions has been an important step to develop new insights into human lung disease that are difficult to achieve in with animal studies, such as the ability to carry out high-resolution imaging on the cells themselves, observing blood clot formation and fluid flow.