Lung-on-a-Chip Simulates Pulmonary Fibrosis


Source: University at Buffalo

Summary: New biotechnology could make testing potential medicine for pulmonary fibrosis, one of the most common and serious forms of lung disease, quicker and less expensive.


Developing new medicines to treat pulmonary fibrosis, one of the most common and serious forms of lung disease, is not easy. One reason: it’s difficult to mimic how the disease damages and scars lung tissue over time, often forcing scientists to employ a hodgepodge of time-consuming and costly techniques to assess the effectiveness of potential treatments. A multidisciplinary unit from University at Buffalo revealed a new technique that could make testing potential medicine for pulmonary fibrosis, one of the most common and serious forms of lung disease, quicker and less expensive. The innovation relies on the same technology used to print electronic chips, photolithography. The study findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Lung fibrosis

The image above shows collagen from a healthy engineered lung tissue. Credit: Ruogang Zhao

Instead of semiconducting materials, researchers placed upon the chip arrays of thin, pliable lab-grown lung tissues in other words, its lung-on-a-chip technology. Obviously, it’s not an entire lung, but the technology can mimic the damaging effects of lung fibrosis. Ultimately, it could change how we test new drugs, making the process quicker and less expensive. Using microlithography, the researchers printed tiny, flexible pillars made of a silicon-based organic polymer. They then placed the tissue, which acts like alveoli (the tiny air sacs in the lungs that allow us to consume oxygen), on top of the pillars. The system showed the positive results, suggesting the lung-on-a-chip technology could be used to test a variety of potential treatments for lung fibrosis.


More Information: Mohammadnabi Asmani et al, ‘Fibrotic microtissue array to predict anti-fibrosis drug efficacy”, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04336-z 


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