In a breakthrough development, scientists have developed a revolutionary technology that would allow bone to be grown artificially and help study about various bone-related diseases. According to the research published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, the new technology has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield and it could be used to test new treatments for human organs and bone tissue, while also reducing the need for animal research.
The study was led by researchers from the University's Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine, along with collaborators from Universitat Ramon Llull, Spain. The scientists developed a ‘bone-on-a-chip device’ continuing mini scaffolding that can be used to grow human bone tissue in the laboratory.
As per the study, the researchers demonstrated how the bone-on-a-chip, which is a tiny chip containing living cells, can be used to grow bone tissue which can then be used to test new potential treatments for diseased or damaged bones. While it was noted that testing new medicines usually require extensive in vivo testing, the new technology, however, was developed in vitro - entirely in the laboratory - in a bid to reduce the need to use animals in research.
With this new development, the scientists aim to create small devices that contain miniature versions of organs such as bone, liver or lungs in the laboratory. Moreover, with the in Vitro method, researchers also hope that there will be a higher success rate of finding the technology that works in humans. The researchers aim that one day the device could be connected to other organ-on-a-chip devices to create human-on-a-chip that would help remove the need for animal research in the development of new medical treatments entirely.
As per the study, the researchers presented findings demonstrating that “organ-on-a-chip technologies have the potential to revolutionise pharmaceutical pre-clinical testing by increasing throughput whilst minimising financial and ethical concerns associated with animal research”. With organ-on-a-chip, the researchers attempt to develop a miniature version of organs that can be contained within this device. This would help replace, for example, rodent test subjects. If the prototype is a success, there is a possibility that the need for animal in-vivo models can be eradicated completely.