Scientists at Harvard Medical School and the Children’s Hospital in Boston, USA, have created a device that mimics a human lung, by incorporating lung and blood vessel cells into a microchip.
This means that human lung and living tissue can be studied without opening up people or animals.
The lung-on-a-chip could predict how human lungs absorb airborne nanoparticles and mimic the inflammatory response.
The device was able to replicate many of the natural responses of lung tissue, such as detecting pathogens and speeding up blood flow so that immune cells can deal with the invaders.
Several more years of research using stem cells are required before a fully functioning organ may be created, which could one day be a way to replace diseased or damaged human lungs.