Chips instead of humans: Peter Loskill wants to position the most important organs of the human body on tiny electronic building blocks.
The physicist and his colleagues are planning to deliver new drugs faster and more precisely this way, avoiding animal testing in the process. Peter Loskill completed his PhD in Germany at the Saarland University, and is now a researcher in the Healy laboratory at the University of California in Berkeley. His chips contain all the essential cell types of the human body, derived from reprogrammed body cells. Loskill and his team are not the only ones, though: the Wyss Institute at Harvard, for instance, is also working on artificial organs. But Loskill’s models are much smaller – about one square millimeter, making them better suited for mass examinations. He has already constructed a heart. “When we administered common heart medications, it reacted just like the real one,” he says. And now, the 30-year-old is working on a chip for fat tissue. He also wants to combine the different organs into a kind of laboratory body. “Then we would be able to register side effects so much better than in simple cell cultures.”