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It’s no bigger than a sugar cube… yet it’s powerful enough to transform the entire healthcare industry…
Specifically, it could completely revolutionize the way scientists fight cancer.
In a remarkable feat of innovation, German scientists have cooked up a miniature lung in the lab.
The reason is simple: So they can use it to test various cancer-fighting drugs – specifically, ones that attack lung cancer.
But how does one create a mini lung out of thin air?
A Tiny Solution to a Big Problem
The researchers took malignant tumor cells from a cancer patient and grew them on a scaffold of connective tissue.
They then attached the device to a bioreactor, which pumps nutrients through the “blood vessels” and simulates breathing.
The tiny lung represents the future of diagnostic medicine, allowing doctors to personalize drug protocols based on an individual patient’s illness.
Professor Heike Walles of Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute is heading the project, and claims that in the future, doctors will be able to grow numerous identical tumors from one patient, thanks to this new technique.
As Walles explains, “The big advantage of this is that we can take a patient’s tumor, grow five to 10 of these little tumors, and then try out different potential therapies outside the human body. After doing so, we’ll be able to make really accurate prognoses of which treatment is most suitable for the patient and which treatments will fail or will generate resistance in this patient.”
It has the potential to be a much more accurate form of diagnosis, too.
You see, drug companies rely heavily on animal testing for cancer medication. But this method hasn’t been very successful, since about 75% of the animal trials fail when implemented in human patients.
But biologically accurate mini lungs may replace animal testing altogether, as it provides a viable alternative for measuring the effectiveness of new drugs.
Opening cancer research to a world of new possibilities, this mini organ may provide a solution that’s tiny in stature but huge in impact.
Tech Research Team