Hepa Chip+

Project Image:
Title of the project:
Hepa Chip+
Improvements in drug research through cell culture systems resembling the in vivo setting.
Improvements in drug research through cell culture systems resembling the in vivo setting.
Project leader:
Dr. Martin Stelzle
Project funding:
  • Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
Project management:
  • Forschungszentrum Jülich
Funding reference number:

Undetected liver toxicity is frequently the cause of drug failure and involves high risks for patients and pharmaceutical companies. The HepaChip® being developed at the NMI is a novel model resembling liver sinusoids, the smallest functional units of the human liver, which can be used to test the effect of a drug at an early timepoint and in a reliable way.


The toxic side-effects of drugs on the liver are frequently detected only after the drug is administered to the patient. This is mainly due to the fact that the test systems currently available lack conclusiveness and predictivity. Findings from animal experiments are not always applicable to human beings, and test systems involving human cells are generally merely stable for a few days. Our aim in developing a new cell culture system, called the HepaChip(TM), was to sustain the function of liver cells even over longer periods. By combining methods used in biological and biochemical testing as well as microtechnology, it is possible to assemble and culture cells in an organ-like environment. In this way, cell function and viability are stabilized and the cells can react to substances in the same way as their counterparts in the human liver.

Project partners:
  • AnalytiCon Discovery GmbH; Potsdam
  • European Screeningport GmbH, Hamburg
  • Ionovation GmbH, Osnabrück
  • microfluidic ChipShop GmbH, Jena
  • Universität Leipzig, Institut für Biochemie der Medizinisches Fakultät, Prof. Dr. Rolf Gebhardt