It’s the size of your thumb, but it’ll also save your life.

Harvard’s Wyss Institute received $37 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the development of a new biotechnology, human-on-a-chip, according to a press release.

Stemming from prior research, in which scientists reconstructed an operating lung-on-a-chip, the researchers are now tasked with incorporating ten different organs-on-chips into one functioning structure. Lung-on-chip integrates human airway cells and capillary blood vessel cells attached to two sides of a porous membrane, which reacts similarly to a human lung. The chip not only mimics human physiology, it also allows Wyss researchers to analyze complex biomedical functions.

Each chip is the size of a USB stick and made of flexible polymer. The transparency offers researchers to observe the inner-workings of human organs without having to invade a human body. As a result, the accuracy and efficiency of drug testing will increase. Current animal testing models tend to fail due to the inaccuracy in anticipating human responses. When completed, human-on-chip will produce decidedly superior results and critical information regarding safety.

Check out the video below for more information on the organs-on-a-chip.

Photo courtesy of the Wyss Institute