Chapel Hill, NC: NC researchers Develop Organ-on-a-chip Biosenor
A new biosensor allows researchers to track oxygen levels in real time in “organ-on-a-chip” systems, making it possible to ensure that such systems more closely mimic the function of real organs. This is essential if organs-on-a-chip hope to achieve their potential in applications such as drug and toxicity testing.
The organ-on-a-chip concept has garnered significant attention from researchers for about a decade. The idea is to create small-scale, biological structures that mimic a specific organ function, such as transferring oxygen from the air into the bloodstream in the same way that a lung does. The goal is to use these organs-on-a-chip – also called microphysiological models – to expedite high-throughput testing to assess toxicity or to evaluate the effectiveness of new drugs.
But while organ-on-a-chip research has made significant advances in recent years, one obstacle to the use of these structures is the lack of tools designed to actually retrieve data from the system.
“For the most part, the only existing ways of collecting data on what’s happening in an organ-on-a-chip are to conduct a bioassay, histology, or use some other technique that involves destroying the tissue,” says Michael Daniele, corresponding author of a paper on the new biosensor. Daniele is an assistant professor of electrical engineering at North Carolina State University and in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at NC State and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.