‘Kidney on a chip’ gets set for space

Kidney on a chip
The “kidney on a chip” is about the size of a credit card. (UW Photo / Alex Levine)

A stack of card-sized gizmos that test the effects of drugs, toxins and weightlessness on human kidney cells is due to take a ride to the International Space Station as early as next year – and researchers at the University of Washington can’t wait.

“Use of the human kidney-on-a-chip here on Earth has already taught us a lot about kidney function and kidney diseases,” Jonathan Himmelfarb, director of the Kidney Research Institute and a professor at the UW School of Medicine, said today in a news release.

“The opportunity to study how physical cues emanating from loss of gravitational forces affect kidney cellular function has the potential to improve the health of people living on Earth, as well as prevent medical complications that astronauts experience from weightlessness,” he added.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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