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A new project models the human body’s response to chemical and bilogical agents. The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) is collaborating with researcher Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, on a project to help combat the effects of chemical and biological substances.

The project, “Ex Vivo Console of Human Organoids” (ECHO), is attempting to model the body’s response to chemical and biological agents and after examining the results, develop coping methods and potential treatments.

“Our mission is to assess threat agent compounds in a human model, especially as we identify a new threat agent,” Robert Kristovich, chief of the Molecular Toxicology Branch at ECBC told “This method provides more rapid and more robust results.”

According to ECBC’s website, Atala is leading the research effort with his team through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with ECBC. Other partners include the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which provided $24 million in funding for the project; Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University and the University of Michigan.

The research teams are developing three-dimensional organ-buds that display realistic micro-anatomy, called organoids, for assessing the toxicity of threat agent compounds. The teams are focusing on four organoids for their projects: liver, heart, vascular and lungs.

If successful, the researchers said the new technology could completely eliminate the use of animal testing in medicine. “We’re looking at how the organs communicate with each other, how they metabolize and influence each other,” Kristovich said.