A little gut, on a little chip

In the old days, people made functioning model airplanes or model rockets (one of which is pictured here, for mental contrast with the idea of a model intestine). Many people still do that. Others have turned inward for nifty things to model:

Human gut-on-a-chip inhabited by microbial flora that experiences intestinal peristalsis-like motions and flow,” Hyun Jung Kim,  Dongeun Huh,  Geraldine Hamilton and Donald E. Ingber, Lab Chip, epub 2012. The authors explain:

“Here, we describe a biomimetic ‘human gut-on-a-chip’ microdevice composed of two microfluidic channels separated by a porous flexible membrane coated with extracellular matrix (ECM) and lined by human intestinal epithelial (Caco-2) cells that mimics the complex structure and physiology of living intestine. The gut microenvironment is recreated by flowing fluid at a low rate (30 μL h−1) producing low shear stress (0.02 dyne cm−2) over the microchannels, and by exerting cyclic strain (10%; 0.15 Hz) that mimics physiological peristaltic motions.”

BONUS: Melinda Wenner Moyer’s Scientific American report on the general topic:”Organs-on-a-Chip for Faster Drug Development