July 26, 2012
MIT Receiving DARPA Funding For Futuristic Biomimetics Health Research
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A team of researchers from MIT is in the process of developing a technology that will mimic human physiological systems in the laboratory.The researchers will receive up to $32 million over the next five years from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to work on the project.
MIT said in a recent statement that an agreement between MIT and DARPA worth up to $26.3 million will be used to establish the BIO-MIMETICS proposal that was one of two award winners selected as part of the agency's Microphysiological Systems (MPS) program.
The program will combine technologies developed at MIT, Draper Laboratory, MatTek and Zyoxel to create a versatile microfluidic platform that can incorporate 10 individual engineered human microphysiological organ system modules in an interacting circuit.
The modules will be designed to mimic the functions of specific organ systems that represent a broad spectrum of human tissues, MIT said.
The goal of the program according to the universe is to create a versatile platform capable of predicting drug and vaccine efficacy, toxicity and pharmacokinetics in preclinical testing.
MIT professor Linda Griffith, who is leading the BIO-MIMETICS program, told redOrbit that ultimately, their research will allow drug discovery for cancer, endometriosis, and infectious diseases.
"Some of the technology is already in the commercial sector helping drug companies predict how drugs will interact with humans," she told redOrbit in an email. "Facets will be moving in over the entire program."
She said that her vision for the project is to see that it helps produce better, cheaper drugs that are personalized to the patient and brings those drugs much quicker to the market.
Another agreement worth up to $6.25 million from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) at NIH will support a complementary research initiative. This project's goal is to model cancer metastasis therapies using engineered human tissue constructs, with the goal of adapting the work to the integrated BIO-MIMETICS platform.