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IMAGE: The intestinal epithelium in the human gut-on-a-chip, when left untreated, protrudes normal villi-like protrusions (on the left), that break down when the chip is exposed to 8 Gy of radiation… view more 

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Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University.

(BOSTON) — Chernobyl. Three Mile Island. Fukushima. Accidents at nuclear power plants can potentially cause massive destruction and expose workers and civilians to dangerous levels of radiation that lead to cancerous genetic mutations and death. While the total number of people affected by nuclear incidents is small, every year millions of cancer patients around the world receive radiation therapy, which, while lower-dose, can still cause harmful cumulative side effects.

Because exposing healthy people to radiation for clinical trials would be unethical, efforts to identify drugs that can mitigate the effects of radiation exposure have been limited to animal studies, which are notoriously poor predictors of how a given drug will behave in humans. Now, researchers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Instituto Superior Técnico (IST, Portugal), Boston Children’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School (HMS) have published a study using an organ-on-a-chip (Organ Chip) model of the human gut that reveals the intestinal blood vessel cells may play an important

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