Optimizing Microfluidic Devices
The Problem and Our Solution
Pharmaceuticals are essential in healthcare; however, the current drug testing process in the United States is inefficient. Currently drugs must go through various phases of testing. The first phase is in vitro, which takes place outside of organisms in test tubes and petri dishes. Once a drug is deemed successful in vitro it moves on to in vivo, which is animal testing. Success in both phases is required before clinical trials with humans can be pursued. A large amount of drugs that pass animal trials unfortunately fail in human clinical trials due to major differences in animal and human physiology. Furthermore, the process is overall too long and costly, taking years and billions of dollars to get drugs approved. Team BioCHIPS’s seeks to address this problem through the use of an organ-on-a-chip model that simulates the working and physiological conditions of a specific organ system. Ultimately, animal testing will be replaced by organ-on-a-chip testing, which has the potential to make the process more reliable and efficient.
Our name, BioCHIPS, stands for Biologically Creating Human Systems Integrated with Programmed Sensors. It describes the basic premise of our research goals in which we plan to revolutionize existing organ-on-a-chip models by integrating sensors to the devices.
An organ-on-a-chip is a microfluidic device designed to mimic the structure, function and conditions found within an organ system. They have been traditionally made through the use of soft lithography. The organ-on-a-chip can be modeled after various organs, such as the heart and lung, but this project will focus on the gastrointestinal tract to create the gut-on-a-chip. This existing model will be further enhanced through the integration of microvilli and biosensors. This improved design is a better replica of the GI Tract inside the model, while also allowing for automated output of data.
As a Gemstone team of 13 undergraduate students we look to grants, scholarships and crowdfunding to fund for expensive, but crucial, lab supplies and materials. LaunchUMD provides us with a platform to interact with interested donors such as yourself. We ask that you "chip" in and support our research endeavors by making a tax-deductible donation. With your help, we will be able to purchase biomaterials needed to fabricate the chip, assays and enzymes for the sensors, and 3D printing time for the microvilli. Every contribution, big and small, is greatly appreciated, as it makes the possibility of reaching our goal more real and brings us one step closer to eliminating animal testing. If you cannot make a contribution, please help us by spreading the word about our cause with your friends and family!
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