Blood Brain Barrier Recreated on a Chip
The blood brain barrier (BBB) serves as a gateway in the brain to deliver nutrients to brain cells and keep out harmful compounds. Breakdown of the BBB is an essential hallmark of many neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education have created a model of the human BBB on a chip that can be used to test the safety and efficacy of new drugs in a more facile, cost-effective, and reliable manner than using traditional animal models. This chip was created using human cells and microfluidic or miniature flow channel technology and overcame the limitations of previous models by supporting all cell types involved and establishing key structural features of the BBB. It consists of two chambers (vascular and brain) connected by a porous membrane that allows the cells in each chamber to communicate to each other. The chip readily passed a series of basic tests, and it was used to assess how the BBB responds to systemic inflammation, a common feature of many neurological diseases. This new BBB model can help replace the use of animal models used for the study of the BBB in research or toxicological testing.
Brown JA, Pensabene V, Markov DA, et al. Recreating blood-brain barrier physiology and structure on chip: A novel neurovascular microfluidic bioreactor. Biomicrofluidics. 2015;9:054124. doi: 10.1063/1.4934713.
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