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ATHENA, the Advanced Tissue-engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer project team, is developing four human organ constructs – liver, heart, lung and kidney – that are based on a significantly miniaturized platform. Each organ component will be about the size of a smartphone screen, and the whole ATHENA "body" of interconnected organs would fit neatly on a desk.

Some 40 percent of pharmaceuticals fail their clinical trials, and there are thousands of chemicals whose effects on humans are simply unknown. Providing a realistic, cost-effective and rapid screening system such as ATHENA with high-throughput capabilities could provide major benefits to the medical field, screening more accurately and offering a greater chance of clinical trial success.

Read: Desktop Human 'Body' Could Reduce Need for Animal Drug Tests

The ATHENA organ project combines heart, liver, kidney and lung features in a desktop toxicity testing platform.

Credit: Artists conception courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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