ARTICLE | Cover Story

Breathing life into lung models

July 22, 2010 7:00 AM UTC

A team of Boston researchers has developed a microfluidics device that mimics key lung functions-including breathing-and can reproduce the effects of inhaled substances on the lung's alveolar-capillary interface better than existing in vitro models.1 The team thinks the lung-on-a-chip technology could be used to screen inhaled drug candidates for toxicity and efficacy more reliably than other in vitro models.

Current in vitro models of the lung, such as transwell systems,can reproduce tissue interfaces in the organ-such as that between alveoli and vascular endothelium-but not the mechanical processes of physiological breathing. They also cannot show how the stresses of breathing affect lung cell responses to inhaled substances...