Thursday, October 18, 2018

About Tissue Chip | National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

Approximately 30 percent of promising medications have failed in human clinical trials because they are found to be toxic despite promising pre-clinical studies in animal models. About 60 percent of candidate drugs fail due to lack of efficacy.

To address this problem, NCATS, through its Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program, along with other NIH Institutes and Centers, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), leads the development of 3-D platforms engineered to support living human tissues and cells, called tissue chips or organs-on-chips.

Tissue chip devices are designed as accurate models of the structure and function of human organs, such as the lung, liver and heart. Once developed and integrated, researchers can use these models to predict whether a candidate drug, vaccine or biologic agent is safe or toxic in humans in a faster and more effective way than current methods.

The ultimate goal of the program is to accelerate the translation of basic discoveries into the clinic. By creating an integrated human body-on-a-chip, researchers can test the varied potential effects of a substance like a drug across the entire body before any testing in humans.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

For Doctors, Delving Deeper as a Way to Avoid Burnout - The New York Times

The anatomy laboratory was always freezing. This was our first course as medical students, and we had split ourselves into groups — four students to every cluster. Each of us carried a copy of "Netter's Anatomy"; by the end of three months in the lab, the volume would become chemically yellowed by formaldehyde, and to leaf through the tawny, crackling pages would be to feel your fingers becoming slowly embalmed. Our group had three men — me, S. and B. — and a woman, G. We "shared" a 60-something female cadaver whose name we knew by only her initials: M.C. She had died, we were told, of metastatic breast cancer. Eventually, as we dissected her body, we would find misshapen deposits of that cancer in her brain, liver and bones.

We met twice a week in the chilly anatomy lab and had lectures, twice a week, in an auditorium downstairs (each of us was also given a real human skull, in a lacquered mahogany box, to take home to study. "A Gift of Dr. Goldberger, M.D.," mine said, although I didn't know whether he had merely purchased the box or donated his cranium). There's the old, apocryphal story about the law-school professor who announces: "Look to your left and look to your right. One of you is going to flunk out of this school." But in medicine, we would soon learn, the danger wasn't flunking out of school. It was a phenomenon called burnout — being propelled to leave the profession after years, or even decades, of training and practice. "Look to your left and look to your right," the anatomy instructor might have said one morning. "One of you is going to flunk out of your medical life."

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