By Mark Wachtler
October 2, 2014. Berlin. (ONN) It took us some work to verify this story, starting at an independent American news outlet and ending with a London reporter for the Times of India. And surprisingly, the biotech company at the center of the controversy is located in Germany and is an offshoot of the University of Berlin. The reports are true. The scientists here are producing miniature, living, breathing human GMO’s for use in laboratory testing of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other experimental commercial products.
Tissuse markets its ‘humans on a chip’ a living human alternative to testing on live animals. Image courtesy of Huffington Post.
Here’s the moral line the company is skirting - what percentage of a human body do you need before it’s officially a human body and not a bunch of human body parts? When scientists created their first human organs in a peachtree dish, it was shocking but nobody accused them of cloning humans. But now, the German company Tissuse is creating human organs that do something no other past creations do. They are living and surrounded by other simulated organs and body tissue. And they’re producing these mini humanoids on a microscopic scale and implanting them into their human body setting, all on the surface of a tiny microchip.
According to the company’s website, ‘TissUse is a Berlin, Germany-based, vibrant growth company providing high-value services in the area of tissue culture analysis of drug candidates, cosmetics, chemicals and consumer products. TissUse’s proprietary technology platform comprises a number of miniature organ-like structures faithful to their full-size counterparts and connected to one another either by microchannels or by vasculature. By using non-cancerous human cells and real vasculature and by providing appropriate micro-environments to the various organ-like structures, TissUse is in a position to achieve uniquely lifelike and predictive results from its culture system.’
The company goes on to tell prospective customers, ‘The versatile TissUse approach addresses multiple organs & tissues to make the right chip for the right assay.’ They explain the benefits of their technology by saying their human organs don’t die and decay like all the others on the market. Since their human organs are plugged into a living human ecosystem, they don’t degenerate and are literally living human organs, perfectly representing the ultimate end user of their customers’ products. ‘Micro-organoids are the sweet-spot for functional bioassays, combining the best attributes of in vivo and in vitro systems,’ the website details.
"Human on a chip”
Tissuse markets its humanoid products as an ethical substitute for testing dangerous and deadly experimental products on animals, ‘Areas span multiple tissues and organs and can be used in lieu of expensive animal models that are low-throughput and often raise ethical concerns.’ Just some of the living human organs and body parts the company says it can create on a micro-scale are lungs, livers, corpuscles, mucosa, and hair follicles.
Another section of the company’s website shows the laboratory machines they sell that house and keep the human organs alive. The promotional materials tout, ‘Current in vitro and animal tests for drug development are failing to emulate the organ complexity of the human body and, therefore, to accurately predict drug toxicity. Our proprietary MOC technology platform is the first “human-on-a-chip”, a miniaturized smartphone-sized construct that closely simulates the activity of multiple human organs in their true physiological context at the smallest possible biological scale.’
If the above didn’t sound enough like the movie The Matrix, the next paragraph from the company’s website definitely does. ‘TissUse has developed methods to generate and use subunits of human organs to achieve miniaturized constructs representative of human organs for use in the chip,’ the company explains, ‘It comprises two independent circulatory networks at the scale of a microscope glass slide. The on-chip micropump and microfluidic channels interconnect different organs at a human-like tissue-to-fluid ratio (600 μL of volume only) and continuously provide oxygen and other nutrients at physiological levels with a pulsatile flow.’
For more information, visit Tissuse.com.
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