An artificial, working brain smaller than a grain of rice, a heart on a stick the size of a micro SD card, and many more “organ chips” could help doctors peer into the inner workings of the human body. Today DARPA and the FDA announced a new $70 million program called Tissue Chip for Drug Testing, aiming to study the micro-environments of various human organs without ever using a scalpel.
Like a coin machine sorting change according to size, a new lab-on-a-chip can sift cells according to their weight and other properties. Doctors could use it to tease out biological matter from the bloodstream and detect cancer or potentially other ailments.
Drugs can affect different patients in unexpected ways, because of each person's unique genetic makeup. Now a newly FDA-approved device that screens blood for genetic variations within hours could allow physicians to choose the drug that best suits a particular patient, according to Technology Review.
Scientists at the University of Michigan have created an air-powered microprocessor that is able to function without an electrical power source. It runs with just pneumatic valves and a handpump that pushes air through the system. The end result is a CPU that could eventually be used in a lab-on-a-chip device aimed at developing countries where electricity is scarce.
Whoever thinks science isn't fun must have never heard of Legos. The colorful construction toy has been used before as a cellular teaching tool. But these days, even researchers working in the nanoscale world get to play around a little.
Thanks to a new approach to one of microfluidics' biggest challenges -- how do you propel fluid in a number of directions at once without the clutter of myriad electromechanical valves and pumps? -- we could be closer to seeing our smartphones double as home flu kits. Credit goes to a team of chemical engineers at the University of Michigan for coming up with the innovative system, which uses music to control the fluid.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.