Health & Environment

Vet Med Researchers Use ‘Tissue Chips’ To Test Safety And Efficacy Of Drugs

A new and more informative process to test the safety and efficacy of drugs is underway at Texas A&M.
By Megan Palsa, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine October 24, 2016

Researchers with a tissue chip.
Researchers with a tissue chip.

(Texas A&M VetMed)

A new and more informative process to test the safety and efficacy of drugs—employing a “tissue chip” technique—is underway at Texas A&M University.

Tissue chips are tiny bioengineered systems that mimic the larger complex organs and tissues of the human body, explained Dr. Ivan Rusyn, professor of veterinary integrative biosciences, who is leading the team of investigators and staff.

The work will be carried out at the state-of-the-art Texas A&M Tissue Chip Validation (TEX-VAL) Center established with a $4.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translation Sciences (NCATS). The center will work with tissue chip developers at other universities and companies to test and validate their devices, Rusyn said.

“This work will help facilitate the use of tissue chips for drug and chemical testing in both the United States and Europe,” he noted. “The chips may improve our ability to ensure that a drug is safe before clinical trials begin and could ultimately replace drug testing in humans and animals.”

“TEX-VAL Center will conduct testing in the microphysiological systems developed by a number of NIH grantees,” Rusyn said. “Our goal is to provide resources, personnel, and infrastructure for establishing functionality, reproducibility, robustness, and reliability of tissue chip models that represent a wide array of human organ and tissue systems.”

Currently, many researchers use conventional tissue cultures to test drug efficacy, but tissue chips offer a more physiologically relevant model that better imitates whole human tissues and organs, Rusyn noted.

Although many are researching how to create tissue chips and testing their physiological function, TEX-VAL Center takes the research a step further. “The next important step is to demonstrate that tissue chips may be transferred to the laboratories and companies outside of the developers’ lab and shown to perform equally well and on a wide range of drugs and chemicals,” Rusyn said.

The project is a collaborative effort and includes faculty from across Texas A&M’s campus and beyond. “The team of senior investigators and staff at TEX-VAL Center has been assembled to address all aspects of the tissue chip technology development and use,” Rusyn explained. “Our team includes experts in toxicology, in vitro and in vivo testing, microscopy, genomics, pharmacokinetic modeling, bioengineering, analytical chemistry, and risk assessment.”

Other TEX-VAL collaborators are: Dr. Weihsueh Chiu, Dr. Robert Burghardt, Dr. Candice Brinkmeyer-Langford at the CVM; Dr. Clifford Stephan at the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology; Dr. Terry Wade with the Texas A&M Geochemical and Environmental Research Group; Dr. Arum Han in the Texas A&M College of Engineering, and Dr. Michael Mancini at the Baylor College of Medicine.

This article by Megan Palsa originally appeared in the Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences website.

Related Stories

Recent Stories