Safety evaluation is a critical part of drug and cosmetic development. But in recent years there is a growing understanding that animal experiments fail to predict the human response, necessitating the development of alternative models to predict drug toxicity and reactions.
In addition, the recent tightening of European regulations preventing the cosmetic industry from using animals in research and development, blocks companies like L’Oréal and Estée Lauder from developing new products, bringing massive investment into this field.
The main challenge in replacing animal experiments is that human cells seldom survive more than a few days outside the body. To address this challenge, scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology in Germany partnered to create a liver-on-chip device mimicking human physiology.
“The liver organs we created were less than a millimeter in diameter and survive for more than a month,” said Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, the study’s lead author and Director of the Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering at the Hebrew University.