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In a move that could signal a shift in the way we test pharmaceuticals, researchers at Harvard University have developed a human lung on a chip. The tiny device contains actual human cells, mimicking the way the human lung works. Because it’s translucent, the chip constitutes a sort of window into the body.
“You’re seeing a breakdown of barriers,” said Dr. Donald Ingber, director of Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. ”We’re taking a technique used to make microchips for the computer industry, modifying it, mixing it with human cells. You’re seeing a man-machine interface, a bionic system that’s part-living, part-inorganic.”