Researchers have used Organ Chips technology to identify the antimalarial drug amodiaquine as a potent inhibitor of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The drug testing ecosystem greatly streamlines the process of evaluating the safety and efficacy of existing drugs for new medical applications and provides a proof-of-concept for the use of Organ Chips to rapidly repurpose existing drugs for new medical applications, including future pandemics.
The Organ Chips platform is a microfluidic device about the size of a USB memory stick that contains two parallel channels separated by a porous membrane. Human lung airway cells are grown in one channel that is perfused with air, while human blood vessel cells are grown in the other channel, which is perfused with a liquid culture medium to mimic blood flow. Cells grown in this device naturally differentiate into multiple airway-specific cell types in proportions that are similar to those in the human airway and develop traits observed in living lungs such as cilia and the ability to produce and move mucus.