Design of the Year 2015 goes to human organs-on-chips

Microfluidic cell culture chips simulating functions of organs win Design of the Year 2015 award from London Design Museum

Photo by: Wyss Institute / Harvard University
Photo by: Wyss Institute / Harvard University

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Organs-on-chips won the Design of the Year 2015 award from the Design Museum in London on June 22. The microfluidic cell culture chips may put an end to torturous animal testing.

Donald E. Ingber and Don Dongeun Huh from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute created a design where human cells are placed from different tissues on to the chips to simulate how organs work.

“The team of scientists that produced this remarkable object don’t come from a conventional design background. But what they have done is clearly a brilliant piece of design,” Director of the Design Museum Deyan Sudjic said in a press release from the Wyss Institute.

“They have perhaps unintentionally created something that for a lay man seems to symbolize the essence of life and also happens to be beautiful to look at."

Inger and his teams have developed chips for various human organs including the lungs, kidneys, and liver which may put an end to the misery of animals in testing labs.

“We now have a window on the molecular-scale activities going on in human organs, including things that happen in human cells that don’t occur in animals,” Ingber said.

According to Ingber, organs-on-chip will help drug companies test the side effects of drugs with “greater accuracy and speed” since they “get completely different results in dogs, cats, mice and humans.”

The next step will be developing personalised medicine, Ingber told The Guardian.

“A drug can be tested on your lung, or your brain, not a dog’s, or the ‘average’ person doing a trial,” he said.

Organs-on-chips and 75 other 2015 nominees will be on display in an exhibition in London’s Design Museum open until March 31.

TRTWorld and agencies