For those who have diseases such as Crohn’s disease and other eviscerating gastrointestinal conditions, help may be in sight when it comes to testing drugs. With these types of conditions, testing medications can be hard to endure, causing pain and other unwanted side effects as well as being quite costly. However, with the use of an Intestine-Chip, not only could researchers use it for improving the process of testing medicine, but it can also be used for researching organ function as well.
A New Testing Device
Debilitating gastrointestinal diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, can often have patients trying numerous costly treatments before finding which ones work for them and that they are also able to tolerate. Unfortunately, many of these drugs can cause painful, distressing side effects, making them intolerable, or simply making them ineffective for their respective conditions. However, thanks to a new testing device, the Intestine-Chip, the downsides of testing new medications may be eliminated, saving patients pain, time, and money.
The way the chip works is, intestinal lining cells which can be created from stem cells of the adult individual are placed on the Intestine-Chip. According to a study done by medical researchers, the cells will mirror what is happening on the inside of the patient’s body. Instead of a patient having to repeatedly test new medications until finding the one that works, they could instead be tested on the chip first. Therefore, the patient would be protected from not only needless experimentation, but also from enduring negative side effects. In addition, it would also mean a reduction of how much medication is used, the difficulty of utilization, the cost of testing, and ultimately, the cost of treatments as well.
Easier and Less Evasive Testing
Recently written up in a medical journal, this study was also published in Gastroenterology and Hepatology. The Intestine-Chip is certainly a medical breakthrough. It would allow researchers to better test medications for patients. Furthermore, it would also give researchers more control in studies of the intestinal lining cells, revealing more decisive results. Additionally, researchers would be able to study the cells more easily, such as how they interact with immune cells, blood cells, and drugs because the intestinal lining cells would be on the chip in an controlled environment. All of this combined would give researchers a better understanding of the cells function.
Another positive outcome of using the Intestine-Chip is that it uses stem cells, allowing doctors to study the intestinal lining of the person being treated without having to acquire a tissue sample by performing invasive surgery. The study also shows that the process would be good for more than one test. An unlimited amount of duplicates of this tissue could be produced for use of evaluating other potential therapies and treatments as well. This is a very important advancement in medicine which can be personalized.
How It Was Done
Clive Svendsen, who is the director of the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute, also co-authored the study. He says the Intestine-Chip is sort of a ”home away from home” for human intestinal lining cells. The researchers first took a minuscule amount of skin and blood cell samples from an adult, reformulating them into induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, which are comparable to embryonic stem cells, able to generate any type of cell in the body. Using specific proteins, along with other substances, the medical scientists then urged the iPSCs to produce intestinal lining cells.
Interestingly enough, each cell carried the unique characteristics and genetic fingerprint of the cell donor. These fresh cells were utilized to grow smaller versions of patient’s intestinal lining, called organoids. The scientists then took cells from these organoids, placing them inside an Intestine-Chip, which are generally the proportion of an AA battery. The natural micro-environment of the patient’s intestinal lining was essentially recreated, providing the right atmosphere and biological clues in order to behave exactly as they do in the patient’s body. Further tests revealed that the intestinal lining cells within the Intestine-Chip contained all the key information of cell types which are normally found a human’s body.
Medical scientists are exploring this same type of research with a number of different organs, even including the human brain. Personalized medicine can be improved as well as advanced, cutting testing costs, relieving patients of having to test medications over and over, and will some day even replace the need for animal testing.