This “Liver On A Chip” Lets Researchers Forgo Animal Testing

“Testing new drugs on animals can be costly, cruel, and ineffective. In the quest to identify an alternative, a U.K. biopharmaceutical company has developed a “liver on a chip,” an important advance in the effort to minimize, and even put an end to, animal experimentation. …

As Bloomberg Business is reporting, one potential solution may come in the form of synthetic human organs that are simulated on chips. Biomemetic platform company CN Bio Innovations has developed a chip that simulates the human liver. Called the LiverChip System, it’s a scaffold whose dimensions recreate the capillary bed structures of human livers; the point is not to re-create the entire liver, but enough of it to perform meaningful tests.”

Snapshots of Life: The Hard Working Hepatocyte

The humble hepatocyte handles a lot of the body’s maintenance and clean up work. It detoxifies the blood, metabolizing medications and alcohol. It secretes important proteins that regulate carbohydrates and fats—including both the good and bad kinds of cholesterol. It’s also the most common cell in one of the few human organs that regenerate: the liver. When this organ is damaged, hepatocytes begin dividing to repair the tissue.

Image: Magnified image of a hepatocyte: nuclei in blue; actin fibers in red, yellow, orange, and green.