Microfabricated mammalian organ systems and their integration into models of whole animals and humans
While in vitro cell based systems have been an invaluable tool in biology, they often suffer from a lack of physiological relevance. The discrepancy between the in vitro and in vivo systems has been a bottleneck in drug development process and biological sciences. The recent progress in microtechnology has enabled manipulation of cellular environment at a physiologically relevant length scale, which has led to the development of novel in vitro organ systems, often termed ‘organ-on-a-chip’ systems. By mimicking the cellular environment of in vivo tissues, various organ-on-a-chip systems have been reported to reproduce target organ functions better than conventional in vitro model systems. Ultimately, these organ-on-a-chip systems will converge into multi-organ ‘body-on-a-chip’ systems composed of functional tissues that reproduce the dynamics of the whole-body response. Such microscale in vitro systems will open up new possibilities in medical science and in the pharmaceutical industry.