What are the alternatives to animal testing?

Friedrich Merz Visiting Professor Donald Ingber cultivates miniature organs on microchips

Veröffentlicht am: Mittwoch, 21. November 2018, 09:18 Uhr (057)

FRANKFURT. How predictive are animal models for the human body? Which human organs can be recreated in vitro? How can personalized medicine benefit from patient-specific organ systems in the future? These questions are the focus of this year’s Friedrich Merz Visiting Fellowship Endowment with Donald Ingber, who will visit Goethe University from Harvard University for one week at the beginning of December. Ingber develops miniature, living organ systems of human cells for investigating diseases and testing new therapies. 

The bioengineering expert developed methods for engineering living human cells on microchips as miniature, three-dimensional organs. These models often deliver more precise results than animal tests, whose predictability for the human body is limited. In addition, they represent a trendsetting option for testing novel drug substances in the laboratory. In cancer therapy, patient-specific tumor cells are cultivated in vitro in order to find a personalized and effective treatment of the individual cancerous disease. 

Professor Ingber and Professor Maike Windbergs, who investigates alternatives to animal testing at Goethe University, will present these fascinating new approaches in a clear and understandable way using film material and examples from research and clinical practice in a podium discussion for the general public

Podium discussion: Human organs and diseases in vitro – fiction or realistic alternative to animal testing?
When: 6th December (Thursday) at 6:00 pm
Where: the Arkadensaal at Goethe House, Großer Hirschgraben 23-25, 60311 Frankfurt. 

Additional podium guests include State Animal Welfare Officer for Hessen Dr. Madeleine Martin and Merz Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Stefan Albrecht. Merz is among the pioneers in the development of in vitro tests for Botolinum toxin.

In a symposium on Wednesday 5th December, international experts will discuss “Modelling health and diseases; form in vitro design to future therapies” (Location: Biozentrum, Riedberg Campus, Hörsaal B1, 9 am – 5 pm). The experts include Professor Andries von der Meer from the Twente University in Enschede, Netherlands. He designs artificial blood vessels on chips and uses them to replicate the process of thrombosis. Professor Ernst Reichmann from the Children’s Clinic in Zurich will present clinical studies on the development of artificial skins for burn victims. The presentation by Professor Stefan Hippenstiel from the Charité in Berlin will discuss the use of human lung tissue to simulate infections in the lung.

Goethe University will be represented by the following experts: Professor Florian Greten, Speaker of the Frankfurt Cancer Institute, who will talk about the use of test systems with human cancer cells for preclinical substance tests and in personalized medicine. Dr. Manuel Kaulich from the Institute for Biochemistry II will report on how he uses the gene scissors CRISPR/Cas for the large-scale screening of substances in order to counter resistances in cancer treatment. Professor Ernst Stelzer from the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences at Goethe University and his research group investigates spheroids based on pancreatic cells to test new therapies for type I diabetes. For the first time, three young postdoctoral students in pharmacy and medicine will introduce their work in brief presentations.

Donald Ingber will also give a lecture for students on 6th December at 10:00 am on the same topics (location: Otter-Stern-Centre, Riedberg Campus, HS 3). It will be followed by a one-hour discussion with questions prepared by pharmacy students in their 8th semester.

Professor Donald Ingber is founding director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Tissue engineering is just one of his many areas of research, which also encompass mechanobiology, tumor angiogenesis, systems biology and nanobiotechnology and translational medicine. He has received numerous awards for his creative ideas. In 2015, the journal “Foreign Policy” elected him as “Leading Global Thinker” and his “Organ-on-the-Chip” technology was awarded “Design of the Year” by the London Design Museum. Ingber holds 150 patents and has founded five companies.

Members of the press will have the opportunity to interview Donald Ingber and other experts on the day of the symposium (5th December). Please contact Professor Maike Windbergs for scheduling: +49 (0) 69 798-42715, windbergs@em.uni-frankfurt.de .

Further information: Professor Maike Windbergs, Institut für Pharmazeutische Technologie, Faculty 14, Riedberg Campus, Tel.: +49 (0) 69 798-42715, windbergs@em.uni-frankfurt.de.
http://www.uni-frankfurt.de/Friedrich-Merz-Stiftungsgastprofessur