Thursday, December 15, 2016

Home is Where the Heart (On a Chip) Is



The world of technology never fails to amaze me every single day. We're constantly creating things, and advancing the world and it's changing rapidly. As a senior, I'm looking at universities, hoping to eventually pursue the field of biomedical engineering. I know that I don't want to be a doctor, mostly because I don't have the patience for eight more years of schooling. I still want to be involved in the medical field, so BME is the perfect balance of technology, biology and medicine.

Image result for heart on a chip harvard
I'd rather be in a lab, designing systems and products, such as artificial organs, artificial devices that replace body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems. So obviously, with these interests in mind, Harvard has done something that has peaked my interest. Harvard researchers just developed a small, transparent "chip" that pulses like a heart and may one day replace animals in cardiac drug tests.

Called a "heart-on-a-chip," the 3D-printable medical device holds heart tissue and reads its reactions to cardiac drugs. One side of the chip is covered in lab-grown heart muscle cells, which contract and relax like they do in one's heart, giving the chip a "beat." Then a built-in sensor measures the pulse rate and strength, so researchers can record how the "heartbeat" fluctuates when the chip comes in contact with various drugs.

The researchers believe that the chips storing human cells can potentially be more accurate than animals in drug tests, aside from being more humane. They hope that the research will one day lead to rapid production of customized chips with specific patient cells, which will allow doctors to study how an individual patient responds to certain drugs.
Image result for heart on a chip harvard

We most likely wouldn't be able to make hearts on a chip here in the Hack Shack, but it's crazy to think that our little 3D printer has the potential to do that. We just don't have the skill set yet, and I don't know how innovative we can be with filament made out of corn. I hope one day that I can be a part of creating devices like the Harvard researchers, and take my knowledge from in here and take it with me as I go off to college and start working in the real world.

Works Cited
Burrows, Leah. "3D-printed Heart-on-a-chip with Integrated Sensors." Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.


Peng, Jingnan. "These "pulsing" Chips Could Replace Animal Testing One Day." Quartz. N.p., 10 Nov. 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

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