Stopping animal testing with "Human-on-a-chip"

Chemical testing on lab animals could be a thing of the past as scientists work to put the human body on a computer chip. (April 10, 2017)

Chemical testing on animal could be a thing of the past thanks to a breakthrough in bio chemical engineering.

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are growing human cells on computer chips. Researchers call it the “iCHIP”.

"The idea behind it is that this is a better medium, because it uses human cells instead of animal testing," said Bio Chemist Elizabeth Wheeler.

The science behind the technology is complicated, but basically human organ cells are grown on electrical sensors. Those sensors can read electrical changes when different chemicals or drugs added to the cells on the chip.

Computers read the electrical changes that take place and give researchers an idea if a chemical is safe for humans. The technology is already in use in epilepsy research and eventually the lab will create a chip for every major organ in the human body.

Beagles are often used for animal testing. The non-profit group Beagle Freedom Project helps rescues dogs and other lab animals from being euthanized. The “iCHIP” technology sound promising to Diana Roach who often dog sits for 2 beagles rescued by the Beagle Freedom Project.

"I think it’s pretty ridiculous we use such archaic way to test given we have new science," said Roach.

The Beagle Freedom Project helped pass legislation in California that required state funded animal testing facilities to adopt out animal’s after clinical test are complete. They continually fight for the right of lab animals and support alternative testing.

The “iCHIP” could someday end the need for animal testing. Right now, “iCHIP” technology is primarily used at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Researchers next step is to complete testing and integrate more human organ cells on the device. 

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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