Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Artificial liver for drug tests

If you have hay fever, headaches or a cold, it's only a short way to the nearest chemist. The drugs, on the other hand, can take eight to ten years to develop.

Until now animal experiments have been an essential step, yet they continue to raise ethical issues. "Our artificial organ systems are aimed at offering an alternative to animal experiments," says Professor Heike Mertsching of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart.

"Particularly as humans and animals have different metabolisms. 30 per cent of all side effects come to light in clinical trials." The test system, which Professor Mertsching has developed jointly with Dr. Johanna Schanz, should in future give pharmaceutical companies greater security and shorten the path to new drugs. Both researchers received the "Human-centered Technology" prize for their work.

"The special feature, in our liver model for example, is a functioning system of blood vessels," says Dr. Schanz. "This creates a natural environment for cells." Traditional models do not have this, and the cells become inactive. "We don't build artificial blood vessels for this, but use existing ones – from a piece of pig's intestine." All of the pig cells are removed, but the blood vessels are preserved. Human cells are then seeded onto this structure – hepatocytes, which, as in the body, are responsible for transforming and breaking down drugs, and endothelial cells, which act as a barrier between blood and tissue cells. In order to simulate blood and circulation, the researchers put the model into a computer-controlled bioreactor with flexible tube pump, developed by the IGB. This enables the nutrient solution to be fed in and carried away in the same way as in veins and arteries in humans.

"The cells were active for up to three weeks," says Dr. Schanz. "This time was sufficient to analyze and evaluate the functions. A longer period of activity is possible, however." The researchers established that the cells work in a similar way to those in the body. They detoxify, break down drugs and build up proteins.

These are important pre-conditions for drug tests or transplants, as the effect of a substance can change when transformed or broken down – many drugs are only metabolized into their therapeutic active form in the liver, while others can develop poisonous substances. The researchers have demonstrated the basic possibilities for use of the tissue models – liver, skin, intestine and windpipe. At the moment, the test system is being examined. Within two years it could provide a safer alternative to animal experiments.

Heike Mertsching | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Artificial pump IGB blood vessel endothelial cell hepatocytes windpipe

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>