Kidney injuries from exposure to too many drugs are common among certain groups of patients, particularly those spending time in the ICU. Kidney injuries can also happen during drug testing, wounding subjects while eliminating candidate drugs far along their development pipeline. Engineers at Draper have now developed a so-called kidney-on-a-chip, an organoid that mimics a real kidney’s function, to use as a platform to test chemical compounds for their nephrotoxity.
Human kidneys have a lot of complexity within their structural components, nephrons. These undergo rapid pressure changes due to blood and other fluids coming through to be filtered. They also respond to chemical signals in the extracellular matrix. The Draper device uses human kidney cells to mimic these qualities of nephrons. A device called PREDICT-96 holds 96 of these kidneys-on-a-chip in a single cartridge, allowing for large sample sizes when testing new chemical compounds on these organoids.
The researchers believe their technology will help speed up drug research, avoid unnecessary animal testing, and reduce cost by eliminating drug candidates whose toxicity would be discovered only later in the drug development process.