Wired has a great feature about research being done at Cal-Berkeley on ‘biochips’ that could mimic the behavior of the human body.
“Imagine if scientists could recreate you—or at least part of you—on a chip. That might help doctors identify drugs that would help you heal faster, bypassing the sometimes painful trial-and-error process and the hefty costs that burden our healthcare system.
Right now, inside a lab at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers are working to make that happen. They’re trying to grow human organ tissue, like heart and liver, on tiny chips. These aren’t your standard computer chips. They’re miniature networks, derived from adult skin cells coerced into becoming the type of tissue scientists want to study, that grow on miniscule pipe-like plastic chambers glued atop a microscope slide.
The research is designed to find ways to get that tissue to live and mimic how real human organs function. If so, they could provide a cheap and quick way of weeding out treatments that are toxic or just don’t work.”