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NIH Awards $15M in Human Disease Modeling Grants

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have announced 13 two-year awards totaling about $15 million per year to develop 3D microphysiological system platforms that model human disease.

This lung-on-a-chip serves as an accurate model of human lungs to test for drug safety and efficacy. Courtesy of Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University.
This lung-on-a-chip serves as an accurate model of human lungs to test for drug safety and efficacy. Courtesy of Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University.

These platforms, called "tissue chips," support living cells and human tissues to mimic the complex biological functions of human organs and systems and provide a new way to test potential drug efficacy. The Tissue Chip for Disease Modeling and Efficacy Testing awards may enable scientists to better understand disease mechanisms and predict more accurately how patients will respond to specific drugs. The support is made possible through NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences' (NCATS) Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program, which leads this effort in collaboration with other NIH Institutes and Centers. The funding is for the first phase of a five-year program.

Awardees for 2017 include Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles; Columbia University in New York; Duke University in Durham, N.C.; Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.; Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.; The University of California, Davis; The University of California, Irvine; The University of Pittsburgh; The University of Rochester in New York; The University of Washington in Seattle; and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

"The goal is for these tissue chips to provide more accurate platforms to understand diseases, and to be more predictive of the human response to drugs than current research models, thereby improving the success rate of candidate drugs in human clinical trials," said NCATS director, Dr. Christopher P. Austin.

NCATS launched its Tissue Chip program in 2012 to lead the development of highly innovative microphysiological systems to study drug safety and toxicity in a faster, more effective way than current methods. The tissue chips can be integrated to form a human body-on-a-chip, enabling researchers to study investigational drugs and therapeutic agents across the entire body prior to human clinical trials. The new Tissue Chip awardees will study a wide range of common and rare diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease and human influenza A viral infection to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia and arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy.

In the second phase of the awards, researchers will partner with pharmaceutical companies to further evaluate the usefulness of validated disease models – those that accurately mimic disease biology – in assessing the effectiveness of candidate drugs.

NCATS conducts and supports research on the science and operation of translation, the process by which interventions to improve health are developed and implemented, to allow more treatments to get to more patients more quickly.

Nov/Dec 2017
BusinesseducationBiophotonicsNational Institutes of HealthNIHdisease modelinggrantstissue chipsAmericasRapidScan

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