17:08 31 March 2017
Scientists have successfully transformed a microchip into a miniature human liver that could be used to test drugs eliminating the need for animal testing.
Researcher Dr Lawrence Vernetti, who has been working on developing the world’s first workable liver-on-a-chip, has built a human liver in the lab after developing a connection with a dog that he had originally planned to test drugs on.
He said: 'I don't know why, but when you do work with them, you can develop a connection,'
'I did with her, and after that I stopped wanting to work with animals.'
'I do believe that through this kind of work we can eliminate animal testing, even if my career may be over before it happens.'
The chip, which is the same size and thickness as a credit card, uses human liver cells that were taken from patients during medical procedures or livers intended for organ donation that weren’t used.
Dr Vernetti suggests that researchers could one day run drugs through the chip and record how the liver cells react. He added that this could be a more accurate measure of drug safety than testing on animals, whose biological make-up differs from our own.