New Invention Promises To Put PETA Out Of Business

It looks like the PETA girls are going to have to put their clothes back on again as a new invention promises to put an end to their organization. While thoughts of shady, meat-eating, fur coat wearing animal haters with gasoline tanks in their hands spark in your imagination, don’t worry. It’s not anything like that. Still, what has the power to close the doors on a non-profit organization like PETA?

Technology.

According to the immensely popular website I Fucking Love Science, (pardon the language), scientists from Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have cracked the secret which now allows them to replicate a device which “closely mimics the composition and architecture of actual bone marrow.” Basically, the invention is lab-created bone marrow on a computer chip that, once it begins commercial production, is a huge step at eliminating the need for animal testing. Good news for all the animal lovers out there, as well for the scientists. Animals no longer have to pay the price for our longer lives and better health.

The marrow chip will provide many functions that rodents and other mammals have had to endure for our benefit. For example, it will help us to better understand how radiation affects bones and the marrow within them during chemotherapy, which will aid in the development of treatments to minimize damage done in these types of procedures. It is hoped that eventually this new invention will be able to rebuild bone marrow inside our bodies, making us heartier and more capable of surviving radiation treatment.

This photo by James Weaver, Harvard Wyss Institute shows the engineered bone exposing the internal trabecular bony network in the opening in the center of the picture. The colored images show the blood cells and the supportive vascular network inside.

This new “organ-on-a-chip” invention is the brainchild of Don Ingber, Founding Director of the Wyss Institute. His invention uses small microfluidic devices whose purpose is to mimic the complex aspects of organs and then study how certain diseases affect them. As these technologies grow more commonplace, they will completely eliminate the need for animal testing, which will become inferior to the replicated human tissues.

“Bone marrow is an incredibly complex organ that is responsible for producing all of the blood cell types of our body, and our bone marrow chips are able to recapitulate this complexity in its entirety and maintain it in a functional form in vitro,” Ingber stated.

Initial testing of the marrow chip invention was quite successful at producing results similar to what would happen to actual bones if they were given lethal doses of radiation, degrading at the cellular level unless a drug used to prevent radiation poisoning is administered. In the future, they believe these chips, when inserted into a host, could repair high levels of radiation in the body by repairing the deterioration as it is being damaged. Successful tests such as this one have brought plenty of funding from the Food and Drug Administration(FDA), who support this more humane way of finding human cures.

While other organ chip inventions have been around for some time, creating one for bone marrow has been very difficult. The problem lies with the relation the marrow has with the bone itself. What we see as solid bone with our eyes isn’t really the case, for within our bones are hollow tubes where our marrow grows. These tubes are known as trabecular bone, and they are filled with thousands of tiny holes. Each hole is different and has different properties, such as temperature and oxygen content. Approximately a dozen different cell types live here, each with their own preferred spot. Adding to the already complex mix are the marrow cells themselves, which communicate to one another by oozing and sensing a variety of different biomolecules which tell them when to live, multiply, die, or transform into specific kinds of marrow cells. Thus, the creation of this new invention is being cheered throughout the scientific community and by animal lovers as well.

What other inventions lie in store for Dr. Ingber? Well, the Defense Agency Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA) is tossing them a few “bones” to build an interconnected set of ten different chip-based organs to study the complexities of the human body outside of the flesh, something very few people would offer them while still alive. This could aid in the treatment of different chemical agents tyrannical governments have used as weapons, something we have been searching for since World War II.

So what are the PETA people going to do now that this invention will stop animal testing? Maybe they could go get hugs from the mink they worked so hard to protect. Let’s just hope the sedatives haven’t worn off yet.

Thank you.