Researchers from University of Michigan and Seoul National University in South Korea have created a microchip for use as a tool to measure the effects of different drugs on living kidney cells. Currently animals are widely used to estimate the toxicity of drugs, but oftentimes they are poor mimics of humans and the human kidneys.
The new chip has two containers between which various compounds can be passed. A polyester membrane with cultured human kidney cells positioned between the containers acts as a miniature kidney, filtering whatever comes through the best it can. Testing involves pushing a drug through the membrane and then analyzing the cells inside the chip to see how well they fared.