In the United States, the drug approval process is lengthy and time consuming. Drugs are tested on cells cultured in vitro to predict how the human body may respond. Given the narrow percentage of drugs that are ever approved, pharmaceutical companies spend countless hours and billions of dollars every year to develop and test drugs that eventually turn out to be unsuccessful. In addition, drug induced liver damage or liver failure has been shown to be the most common cause of pharmaceutical drug recall.
The pharmaceutical drug trial process requires an average of 10 years of testing per medication. In 2013, the average R&D cost per medication was estimated to be $2.6 billion. (Source: PhRMA, 2014)
Our team’s goal is to develop a liver on a chip model with potential applications in pharmaceutical testing that more accurately resembles the complex mechanical, structural, and cellular properties of a human liver lobule. An “organ on a chip” is a microfluidic cell culture device that contains hollow chambers inhabited by living cells. For our project, we intend to use novel biomaterials and microfluidic technology to 3D print a liver model that is both biologically accurate and cost-effective. As UMD is one of the few schools in the nation to have access to a Nanoscribe printer, we are able to print a physiologically accurate liver sinusoid right here, on campus.
Image of our microfluidic device fabricated using soft lithography techniques
Team Micro is an undergraduate research team under the Gemstone Honors Program at the University of Maryland. Our team is composed of 9 juniors of different majors, including Bioengineering, Biology, and Computer Science. Under the mentorship of Dr. Ryan Sochol, we utilize the machines in the Bioinspired Advanced Manufacturing Lab and NanoFabrication Lab at UMD to create our devices.
How Can You Help?
Lab materials including cell culture media, cells, and assay kits for testing are expensive as well as reserving use of various lab machines. By donating, you would be supporting our research, helping provide for these lab materials, and supporting us in our goal to create a more physiologically accurate cell culture device. An application of this device could improve the pharmaceutical drug trial process leading to safer medications screened in less time.
Please visit our website to learn more about our team! : http://teammicro.weebly.com/
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