DASGIP AG, located in Juelich (Germany) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (IZI) in Leipzig (Germany) cooperate in stem cell research. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research subsidizes a 1.1 Million € project aiming at the development of alternative drug testing methods without animal testing.
Taking prescription drugs during pregnancy can be harmful to the unborn child. Therefore, identifying the embryotoxic potential of a new drug candidate is an essential part of any preclinical study. These studies are currently conducted in animals according to OECD guidelines.
In Europe, 11 Million animals are tested annually. About 50 percent of these tests are performed to explore the bone harming and thus the embryotoxic potential of such drug candidates.
Dr. Nicole zur Nieden, leader of the stem cell group at the Fraunhofer Institute, is developing a method to identify the bone harming potential in vitro. This shall be enabled by simulating and monitoring the multi-phase differentiation process of pluripotent stem cells in a controlled bioreactor system. By adding compounds with known in vivo osteotoxic potential, adverse effects on the differentiation will be identified. Non human embryonic primate stem cells will be compared to human progenitor cells to study varying molecular reactions compared to the established test organisms (mice).