In recent years, our laboratory has developed technology to build organs on chips with the aim of creating alternatives for animal research and achieving more accurate and reliable preclinical experimental data. We are fully committed to establishing a bionic chip system—from the design of channels, selection of mold materials, chip bonding, and 3D structural conditions in the beginning, to the appropriate density, adhesion efficiency, proliferation conditions, and viability of human cells in the chip. At this stage, a robust and reliable dynamic human chip-culture system has been established. It contains a continuously perfused cell-growth channel, which is designed to mimic the physiology at the tissue and organ levels and reproduce the cell structure, tissue interfaces, physicochemical microenvironment, and all actual conditions of the human blood/culture medium flow. This system possesses the advantages of in vitro analysis of the tissue function and the biochemical, genetic, hereditary, and metabolic activity of cells in the organ microenvironment. It has the future aim of truly becoming a complete replacement for animal experiments.
Currently, we use this system for a detailed health evaluation of fine aerosols and the development of a platform for a complete air-pollution health-evaluation model. Such a system will replace animal-based studies and provide a database of toxicological and exposure assessments and dose-response curves for corresponding pollutants, with a focus on lung health and risk assessment. We will use this novel bionic platform to investigate the health problems caused by fine aerosols in the human respiratory system, e.g., inflammatory reactions, damage to barrier functions, penetration of particulates, and injury to gas exchange. In addition to promoting non-animal research models, the successful development of a biomimetic lung-on-a-chip is necessary for studying the health effects of modern air pollution. The chip’s rapid and effective screening ability will help Taiwan’s governmental agencies (e.g., the Environmental Protection Administration) move toward a correct policy implementation for drug development, and help the clinical community to reduce costs and drastically shorten the drug-development process. This technology can even be used to construct lung chips reflecting different regions and ages, allowing the evaluation of subtle physiological differences and the promotion of regional policy implementations.
Individualized biomimetics: This innovative technology can be used to achieve universal biomimetic potential in obtaining personalized physiological data from both healthy individuals and patients.
Health impacts of air pollution: Regardless of where people live, if the airborne particulates corresponding to an individual's behavioral pattern are collected and matched with our in vitro biomimetic alveolar and air exposure system, it can be used to rapidly elucidate the effects of the aerosols on the individual.
Diversified and rich data: Unlike air pollution warnings in the past, which only show pollutant concentration and air quality, biomimetic chips have the advantage of producing more diversified data, such as lung inflammatory reactions, barrier damage, functional changes such as particulate penetration and gas exchange, visualizations of the risk of lung disease or lung cancer, and the harm of air pollutants.
Simplification of technological requirements: This technology is equipped with an air health risk assessment that can help people create their own biomimetic lung system with health examination samples (such as blood samples) and use it in their own lives, so that people can almost effortlessly obtain a personalized air pollution health examination model using existing health examination methods.