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Artery-on-a-Chip Studies Heart Disease

Scientists from Canada have developed a microfluidic platform on which fragile blood vessels can be fixed, allowing the factors that promote and sustain cardiovascular diseases to be studied.

Microvascular structure and function are currently studied using either an isometric approach, where small arteries are mounted on two wires, or an isobaric method, where arteries are drained and filled using glass micropipettes. Both of these procedures require manually skilled personnel and are not scalable - key factors which have limited the number of laboratories carrying out essential microvascular research.

However, Axel Günther and colleagues at the University of Toronto have overcome several of these limitations by developing a microfluidic platform to mount arteries on, which is scalable, inexpensive and has potential for automation and standardisation. The device could be used to routinely screen drug candidates on viable arteries, potentially speeding up the drug development process and reducing the need for animal experimentation.

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