An Organ-on-a-chip is a microfluidic cell culture device created with a microchip manufacturing methods. These devices are intended to mimic in vivo biological architecture of functional living organs and can be used in research and drug development.
Organ-on-a-chip models are poised to offer solutions to these major problems through the replication of and with the potential to be high-throughput in vitro drug screening platforms. The approach of the technology involves the growth of cells in distinct compartments within a microfluidics device that are networked to each other through embedded channels. Cell media ("blood") flows through such channels and is circulated to each compartment on the chip, enabling cross-talk between different tissue types. The rate of media flow is typically controlled by pneumatic pumps and advanced bioengineering approaches can enhance cellular maturation in order to induce a more physiologically relevant organ-like phenotype. As an example, native organ biology such as gut peristalsis or breathing of the lungs can be mimicked with vacuum controlled stretching and contracting of the chips.