Microfabricated Device Developed at Mass General Allows Evaluation of the Efficacy, Toxicity of Drugs Metabolized Through the Liver

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A team of researchers from the Mass General Center for Engineering in Medicine (CEM) has developed a new microfabricated device that simplifies the process of testing so-called “pro-drugs” for toxic side effects.

A pro-drug is one that is administered in an inactive form and then transformed into an active drug via metabolism in the liver. The device created by the CEM team has separate chambers for two sets of cell cultures.

In the example used in the study, one chamber contained liver cells and the other contained cancer cells. A chemotherapy pro-drug designed to treat the cancer cells was then introduced to the liver cell culture, allowing researchers to observe the metabolism of the drug and the interaction between the two cultures to see if any potentially toxic byproducts resulted. Shyam Sundhar Bale, PhD, was lead author of the study.

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