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New biochip mimics drug metabolism in human livers

Dr. Moo-Yeal Lee of Cleveland State University is the co-author of an article published this month in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

In “High-throughput and combinatorial gene expression on a chip for metabolism-induced toxicology screening,” Dr. Lee and his colleagues at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of California, Berkeley, as well as Samsung Electro-Mechanics and Solidus Biosciences report on their development of the “Transfected Enzyme and Metabolism Chip” – TeamChip for short.

Their new microarray biochip can mimic drug metabolism in human livers and predict likely adverse drug reactions.

“Many compounds, including drugs, chemicals and even environmental toxicants, can be converted into different molecules in human livers, which often results in enhanced toxicity” said Dr. Lee, assistant professor in CSU’s Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering.

Predicting the toxicity of compounds and their products of metabolism is an important area of research for developing safer drugs.

“The problem is each individual has different levels of drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver, which makes assessment of drug metabolism and toxicity very difficult,” Dr. Lee said. “Our biochip allows us to assess this problem with extremely small samples, with a volume of only 60 nanoliters.”

Dr. Lee and his graduate students at CSU are now refining the biochip technology, in hopes of better predicting what happens in the body when compounds are delivered.