The long-term vision of hDMT is to create complex organ systems on chips, with vessel mimics connecting the organ tissues. To facilitate drug testing it will be possible, for example, to deliver liver cells to one culture chamber and kidney or brain cells in another. Any drug added could then be metabolized in the liver compartment and the metabolic products, which are often the major cause of toxicity, could flow to the target tissue in the adjacent chamber. More tissues could be added, ultimately leading to a ‘body on chip’ - a powerful approach for studying the interaction between the organs and the effects of drugs throughout the body.
Customized vessels on chip
In the distant future, it is conceivable that many individuals will have their own iPS cells stored in banks, much like blood is stored today. Using these cells, it may be possible to make customized vessels on chip, allowing analysis of drug responses on an individual basis for personalized medicine. These ‘patients on chip’ could facilitate identification of the most effective drug candidates for a vascular disease in a given patient, saving time, money and discomfort. It may also become possible to predict health problems for people with genetic predisposition for certain vascular diseases, in some cases presenting opportunities for lifestyle adjustments that could delay onset of the ailment in question.
However, much research remains to be done before this vision turns into reality. Partners in the hDMT Vessel on Chip consortium nevertheless intend to contribute to making it happen.