A large part of disaster management involves planning the medical response in a crisis – for example, how best to treat a person exposed to high levels of radiation. Preparing for such events can be tricky – clearly it’s unethical to use humans or animals to trial radiation dosages and treatments. With this in mind, bioengineers have begun to develop ‘organs on chips’ – pictured is a simulated human lung. The main channel running down the centre of the chip contains lung cells which form a boundary between air flow (green) and blood flow (red), much like a real lung. This chip models the function of a human lung, and can even be connected to other organ chips to form a complete biological system – or human ‘body’. Organs on chips enable the effects of toxic chemicals to be monitored and provide a great defence against chemical or biological attacks.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.