Figuring out how human organs behave in the body
A DARPA-funded project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was in the limelight during the Wednesday keynote at NIWeek. MIT professor Dave Trumper (at right in the photo) and Jared Kirschner, Senior Software and Electrical Engineer from Continuum Biomedical Inc. demonstrated a preclinical research platform for predicting safety, efficacy, and movement of drugs and vaccines in the body. The platform contains tissues from seven different human organs such as the liver, gut, brain, heart, and so forth. The tissues come either from biopsies or are grown from stem cells. Twelve pneumatically actuated micropumps send growth medium to the tissue. The pumps are driven by a special valve box (in the photos, the thing with the blue lights) that Continuum designed which is controlled with a CompactRIO. The pump commands update at a 1 kHz rate. To study how a drug, say, affects the organs, operators would introduce it into the growth medium and, after a time, remove the tissue to see how it is affected.