New Space and Tech

Next Generation Gene Chips – The Ideal Life Science Sensor

By Keith Cowing
April 8, 2013
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Think about this: imagine having this gene chip technology aboard on long duration spaceflight as a diagnostic tool for crew health, for characterizing environmental microbial contamination, and to assay crop health within life support systems. Add a WiFi, WiMAX, or Bluetooth link and Tricorders could get quick updates.

White House Boosts Translational Medicine, Drug Chip Project, Science Insider

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins’s controversial plan to launch a new center for translational biomedical research got a boost today in a White House announcement on science initiatives. NIH also rolled out an early project for the planned center, promising up to $140 million over 5 years to develop a chip for predicting drug toxicity
NIH, DARPA and FDA collaborate to develop cutting-edge technologies to predict drug safety, NIH

The National Institutes of Health will collaborate with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop a chip to screen for safe and effective drugs far more swiftly and efficiently than current methods, and before they are tested in humans. The chip will be loaded with specific cell types that reflect human biology. It will be designed to allow multiple different readouts that can indicate whether a particular compound is likely to be safe or toxic for humans. DARPA and NIH will run separate and independent programs, but they will work closely to ensure maximum benefit and efficiencies. For example, DARPA and NIH will facilitate collaborations between researchers and FDA to advance the goals of both programs. This fall, the two agencies, in coordination with FDA, will solicit proposals from industry, government labs, academic institutions, and other research organizations on how best to develop the chip, bringing together the latest advances in engineering, biology, and toxicology to bear on this complex problem.

Military and medical science meet to put human body on a chip, Nature

It’s definitely a 21st-century ambition: a chip inlaid with human cells representing physiological systems from heart to brain to gut. A chip that would separate the wheat from the chaff among a myriad of potential new drugs, dispensing with those toxic to humans before they ever enter a human body. And doing so quickly and cheaply. Today, the US military and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) proposed developing just such a chip in a $140 million effort over the next five years. The Pentagon’s storied Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is teaming with NIH – a first – to execute the project, with each agency committing $70 million. The NIH contribution would come from its director’s discretionary “Common Fund,” but be administered through a proposed new translational medicine center at the biomedical agency. The Food and Drug Administration will also play a part, advising the agencies on how to meet its requirements for safety and effectiveness.

DARPA to Develop Platform for more effective testing of drugs and vaccines, DARPA

To create a pathway for the fielding of safe and effective countermeasures, DARPA has launched the Microphysiological Systems program. MPS will develop a platform that uses engineered human tissue to mimic human physiological systems. The interactions that candidate drugs and vaccines have with these mimics will accurately predict the safety and effectiveness that the countermeasures would have if administered to humans. As a result, only safe and effective countermeasures will be fully developed for potential use in clinical trials while ineffective or toxic ones will be rejected early in the development process. The resulting platform should increase the quality and potentially the number of novel therapies that successfully move through the pipeline and into clinical care.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.