Tiny artificial lung may replace animal testing
With hopes to achieve better treatment results in lung cancer patients and eliminate the need for animal testing, researchers have developed a new 3-D test system that is made to mimic functions of the human lung. Currently, 75 percent of the drugs deemed beneficial when tested on animals fail when used to treat humans.
The model is essentially the human lung in miniature – each model is no bigger than a sugar cube. The biological model is based on human lung cancer cells growing on tissue. A bioreactor is then used to make it breathe and to pump nutrients through its blood vessels in the same way our bodies supply our lungs with blood. The reactor also makes it possible to regulate factors such as how fast and deeply the model lung breathes.
Researchers plan to use the artificial lung to test new treatments and see which ones show resistance. They’d also like to use the model to better understand the formation of metastases, which is what often makes lung cancer fatal.