Live Cell Monitoring in Microsystems

© Fraunhofer FIT

The REACH-Directive of the European Union requires chemical and pharmaceutical companies to provide a comprehensive risk assessment of many substances with the goal to improve human and environmental safety.

For many of these risk assessments, no in-vitro test systems are available so far to replace animal experiments. The automated test system being developed in the AKTIVATES projects wants to provide such a solution.

The coordinator of the project, Cologne-based Axiogenesis AG, is able to create about 20 specific cell and tissue types (e.g., heart, liver or brain cells) out of embryonic stem cells of the mouse. Those cells will be used to study tissue-specific effects of substances in-vitro (i. e. outside a living organism).

Fraunhofer FIT has developed a micro chip as the central component of a system, where the environmental conditions can be controlled easily. Multiple sensors inside the chamber provide detailed information about cellular behavior. This information profile is rich enough to substitute animal experiments and also to provide additional detail.

Cells can be kept in the chips for several weeks, therefore long-term effects can also be studied. This also makes the system interesting for drug discovery and pharmaceutical safety.

The technologies are integrated into a demonstrator system in cooperation with Axiogenesis AG, GeSIM mbH and GS Gebhard & Schäfer GmbH.