Based on our many years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors, coupled with our interdisciplinary expertise in key technologies at the point where life sciences and material sciences meet, we are continuously developing new in vitro and in vivo-like test systems that – on completion – are intended to test the mode of action and profile pharmacological substances, and detect diagnostic biomarkers.
We are developing in vitro cell culture models that can be used to assess the effect of medicinal products or air pollution on lung cells. These models help avoid animal testing. They are also used to evaluate exhaust gas sources.
The prognosis for colon cancer is relatively good if it is diagnosed at an early stage. We are using an in vitro colon cancer model to test a method for the improved early diagnosis of biomarkers that can be used to differentiate between healthy intestinal epithelial cells and those exhibiting pathological changes.
Artificial micro organs
The methods of microtechnology and microfluidics can be used to reproduce the smallest functional units of organs or tissues on a microchip. Reproducing the body's natural environment – in the form of extracellular matrix proteins, three-dimensional cell layout and organ-like perfusion – will make it easier to maintain the functionality of cells in these systems compared to the current two-dimensional cultures. Processes in and around cells, such as the effect of pharmaceutical compounds, can be tested with particular relevance for the in vivo situation and used in place of less conclusive 2D cultures and animal experiments.
For example, we are working on the HepaChip®, which reproduces the function of the liver. This test system enables toxicological and pharmacological substance tests in organotypical, three-dimensional liver cell cultures.
Next-generation microlectrode systems
We are constantly developing application- and customer-specific microelectrode arrays (MEAs) for neurophysiology and cardiovascular physiology. As cell- and organotypical biosensors, MEA-based systems are used in the analysis of cellular communication and interaction, and as in vivo-like models they are used for testing the effect of substances on cardiovascular and neuronal functions
Neurochips combine nerve cells with electronic chips. A group of young researchers is developing and using these chips boasting several thousand sensor points to electrically stimulate individual cells and analyze their signals. The potential of these high-resolution neurochips is being tapped for medical applications and for research purposes in the area of biotechnology, for example. With regard to method development, researchers are being guided by the latest trends in neurophysiology and neurochip technology.