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Microfluidic Testing for LLNA Replacement
By: Katie Schaefer, Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine
Posted: February 26, 2010, from the March 2010 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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Additional applications for the technology are under investigation. Yarmush explained, “The chip can be applied to any barrier tissue with the local lymph environment.” For example, the technology can be used to test drugs for the gastrointestinal tract, the eyes, the lungs and the urinary tract. Through a different partnership, the microfluidic technology is currently being used with hepatocytes (liver cells) to determine drug clearance and drug metabolism.
The technology is of a modular design so that with the same microfluidic channels and lymph node compartment, different cell types can be exchanged to perform different tests. Using skin as the barrier tissue, the chip can also be used to test the toxicity of cosmetic products such as hair dyes.
Regardless of use, Yarmush finds that the microfluidic chip may provide a number of benefits to users. “You can test a number of chemicals, possibly hundreds, on the same chip rather than only one on a mouse,” said Yarmush. Companies that utilize the chip will also be able to market the fact that they do not test on animals.
Finally, the test may be more accurate, as it employs substrates closer to human skin. Yarmush concluded, “Everybody is hoping that what they do as an alternative will not just save animals, but will be as accurate, or more accurate, than the current tests.”