UMich team finds the right dose with 'kidney-on-a-chip'


A team of researchers from the University of Michigan has developed a device by which to gauge the flow of drugs through a human kidney and discover better ways to deliver medication to the organ.

According to a release from the university, two thirds of intensive care patients experience a serious kidney injury, and in 20% of those cases, the medication is a contributing factor. So having a “kidney-on-a-chip” for determining safe levels of treatment can give physicians a clear idea of what dose to give a patient.

"When you administer a drug, its concentration goes up quickly and it's gradually filtered out as it flows through the kidneys," UM’s Shuichi Takayama said in a statement. "A kidney on a chip enables us to simulate that filtering process, providing a much more accurate way to study how medications behave in the body."

The team used the antibiotic gentamicin and filtered it through the chip, simulating the filtering process of the kidney. They monitored the “damage” that would occur in the kidney, finding that a once-daily dose was less harmful than a continuous infusion, even at the same overall dosage.

"We were able to get results that better relate to human physiology, at least in terms of dosing effects, than what's currently possible to obtain from common animal tests," Takayama said. "The goal for the future is to improve these devices to the point where we're able to see exactly how a medication affects the body from moment to moment, in real time."

- here's the release