A small device containing human cells in a 3D matrix represents a giant leap in the ability of researchers to find out how these cells respond to stress, drugs, and genetic changes.
About thumb-station-sized devices are known as chip strings or organs as chips.
The International Space Station has planned a series of studies to test microblogging on tissue flurries in an international space station by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Space Research Center (CASIS) in cooperation with NASA. Tissue Chips in Space seeks to better understand the importance of microgravity for human health and disease and to turn this understanding into improving human health on the planet.
"Space flight causes many significant changes in the human body," says CASIS Program Manager Liz Warren. "We expect the tissue flakes in space to function much like the astronaut's body and experience a similar rapid change."
Many changes in the human body caused by micro-gravity resemble the onset and progression of earth-aging diseases such as bone and muscle failure. But changes related to space are taking place much faster. This means that scientists can use space-based weaving techniques in modeling changes that may take months or years to happen on earth.
It is also called a microphysiological system, three major features in the tissue circuit, Lucie Low, NCTS Scientific Director.
"It must be 3D, because people are 3D," he explained. "It has to have several different types of cells, because the body is made of all types of tissue, and it has microfluidic channels, because every body tissue has vascularity to produce blood and nutrients and to eliminate deterioration."
Warren adds, "The tissue pliers give the cells home away from home."
They mimic complicated biological functions of certain organs better than ordinary 2D cell cultures.
"Essentially, you get a functional unit of what human tissues are, outside the body," says Low. "It's like taking a little bit of you, put it in the pot and see how the cells respond to different stresses, different medications, different genetics, and use it to predict what they do in your body."
One possible spread of tissue flakes is the development of new drugs. Approximately 30% of promising drugs are found to be poisonous in human clinical trials, despite favorable preclinical studies in animal experiments. Approximately 60% of potential pharmaceuticals fail due to inefficiency, so the drug has no intended effect on the person.
"In the drug development process, there is a need for better models to predict the human body and to assess the toxicity much earlier in the process, as well as to check that the potential drug actually does what it should without adverse effects, Low says.
Exact models of the structure and function of the human body, such as lung, liver and heart, provide researchers with a model to predict whether a candidate drug, vaccine or biological substance is safe for humans faster and more effectively than current methods.
Warren says that tissue parcels in space are based on microfluidic knowledge obtained in previous space exploration surveys, but also require the creation of new, unmetered devices and systems.
The system was to be automated as much as possible.
"We wanted to simplify all the space flight, so the astronauts just need to connect to the space station box with no syringes or liquids," he says.
The engineers were also miniaturized with complex, large devices that are used to maintain the appropriate environmental conditions for the chips. This equipment, which is the entire refrigerator on the planet Earth, takes up as much space as the boot in space.
Microfluids presented unique challenges, such as bubble formation. On the planet bubbles run to the top of the liquid and leave, but special mechanisms are needed to remove them in the microsphere.
Tissue Chips in Space automation and miniaturization help tissue engineering standardization, which promotes global research.
"Now we have a tool that can be sent anywhere on Earth," says Low.
On Earth, scientists try to combine multiple organ chips together to imitate the whole body. This can allow accurate medical or customized treatments and prevention of disease, taking into account the individual's genes, the environment and the body.
The first stage of the substance tissue blades includes five studies.
An aging diagnostic of the immune system is planned to be launched on SpaceX CRS-16 in mid-November.
The other four that are to be launched on SpaceX CRS-17 or on the next flights include lung master defense, blood brain barrier, musculoskeletal and renal function. These first flights test the effects of microgravity on tissue hair and demonstrate the ability of the automatic system.
All five studies make a second flight about 18 months later to demonstrate the functional use of the model, such as the testing of potential drugs in certain organs.
In addition, four new projects are due to be launched in the summer of 2020, including two planned heart diseases for understanding cardiovascular disease, one on drowning and one on inflammation.
Ultimately, Warren says that technology could allow astronauts to enter the space to take personalized chips to track body changes and test possible responses and treatments.
In the picture: Made of flexible plastic, the tissues have ports and channels that provide nutrients and oxygen to their internal cells.