Between 15 and 20 percent of people living in Western countries are allergic to chemicals in the environment. Every year, an average of 350 to 550 new chemicals are introduced on the market. These chemicals can hurt skin, liver and other tissues, and lead to drug-induced liver injury. One of the problems is that there’s currently no data on the safety of more than 35,000 chemicals.
Low-cost approaches are desperately needed to improve rapid screening of these chemicals. As Canada Research Chair in Bio-microelectromechanical Systems (BioMEMS), Dr. Amir Sanati-Nezhad is developing tissue models that mimic human tissues to help in screening the toxicity of chemicals and drug candidates.
Sanati-Nezhad is leading an interdisciplinary research team that is combining BioMEMS and biological techniques to engineer human tissues such as skin, liver and vasculature tissues. More specifically, he and his research team are developing sensors that can be integrated into these engineered tissues to monitor the crosstalk of cells and tissues. They are also investigating how these tissues interact in response to chemicals and drugs.
Ultimately, Sanati-Nezhad’s research will improve our understanding of the toxic effects of chemicals and drugs on different human tissues. It will also support the development of human disease models and effective treatments, opening up avenues to better diagnose and manage diseases.