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IMAGE: This is UniSA bioengineer Dr Chih-Tsung Yang pictured with the microfluidic cell culture chip in the foreground. view more 

Credit: Joe Vittorio

The debilitating side effects of radiotherapy could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a breakthrough by University of South Australia (UniSA) and Harvard University researchers.

UniSA biomedical engineer Professor Benjamin Thierry is leading an international study using organ-on-a-chip technology to develop 3D models to test the effects of different levels and types of radiation.

A microfluidic cell culture chip closely mimics the structure and function of small blood vessels within a disposable device the size of a glass slide, allowing researchers and clinicians to investigate the impact of radiotherapy on the body’s tissues.

To date, scientists have relied on testing radiotherapy on cells in a two-dimensional environment on a slide.

Professor Thierry, from UniSA’s Future Industries Institute (FII) and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology (CBNS), says the organ-on-a-chip technology could reduce the need for animal studies and irrelevant invitro work, both of which have major limitations.

“An important finding of the study is that endothelial cells grown in the standard 2D culture are significantly more radiosensitive than

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