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Two million euros of funding for project on human 3D tissue models of skin and muscles

Two million euros of funding for project on human 3D tissue models of skin and muscles

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© Andrea Deiwick/Lothar Koch, LUH
Amongst others, skin cells are cultivated on scaffolds of tissue models. © Andrea Deiwick/Lothar Koch, LUH

Leibniz University Hannover joins European initiative PLATFORMA

The PLATFORMA consortium consists of research facilities and industry partners from Germany, the UK and Belgium and intends to develop novel 3D tissue models to be used in medical and cosmetic screenings. The project is in receipt of two million euros of funding provided within the scope of the EIC Pathfinder programme "EIC Transition to Innovation". Leibniz University Hannover (LUH) is represented by the Institute of Quantum Optics.

3D tissue models cultivated on laser-printed biocompatible scaffolds will enable researchers to analyse human tissue for various purposes including drug development or for screening cosmetics and pollutants. In the future, this could render animal testing in these fields obsolete.

The tissue is cultivated in and on scaffolds. The PLATFORMA researchers intend to develop two different kinds of tissue models: one skin model and one muscle model. In order to achieve this, living cells are reprogrammed to become stem cells, which then grow into different types of cells, namely skin and muscle cells. The three-dimensional tissue models are characterised by a combination of skin or muscle cells with neutrons and electrodes. Integrated electrodes ensure that the electro-physiological status of neuronal cells can be monitored permanently. With this monitoring mechanism, researchers can directly observe the reaction of the cells during experiments.

Through research on muscle models, the project aims to provide new insights into various illnesses such as muscular atrophies or motor neuronal diseases. For this purpose, diseased cells removed from patients are applied onto the scaffolds in order to compare their reactions with healthy cell models. Based on the skin models, the researchers intend to investigate medical aspects, such as the administration of new medication via the skin. Moreover, they also plan to use them for screening cosmetics in order to reduce animal testing to the absolute minimum.

The team of the nanoengineering work group at the LUH Institute of Quantum Optics has already made vital contributions in past projects focusing on additive 3D laser nanoengineering and laser prints of living cells and tissue. "Based on the Cluster of Excellence REBIRTH and the insights gained in collaboration with Hannover Medical School, we aim to develop 3D models of the central and peripheral nervous system. The PLATFORMA project will advance biocompatible 3D scaffolds as well as stem cell differentiation and culture techniques in order to build multi-layered organ-on-a-chip models", explains Prof. Dr. Boris Chichkov, head of the project at the Institute of Quantum Optics. Part of the biological research will be conducted in laboratories at the Lower Saxony Centre for Biomedical Engineering, Implant Research and Development (NIFE).

Laser nanoFab GmbH, a company based in the Hannover region, is also involved in the project. The young technology-oriented business develops and markets micro- and nanofabrication technology and systems. Within the scope of the PLATFORMA project, the company develops laser-based micro- and nanoproduction technology for building 3D tissue scaffolds with integrated electrodes.

The project is scheduled to be realised within two years. The PLATFORMA researchers are confident that they will succeed in developing initial models that can be used in practice. Although the project has just been launched, the team already approaches the product development stage.

In addition to LUH and Laser nanoFab GmbH, Aston University (UK), as well as the businesses StratiCELL (Belgium) and Axol Bioscience (UK) are involved in PLATFORMA. DLM Consultancy Services Limited (Scotland) supports the collaborative project and contributes expertise in knowledge-based business development.

Note to editors

For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Boris Chichkov, Institute of Quantum Optics at Leibniz University Hannover (Tel. +49 511 762 17771, Email chichkov@iqo.uni-hannover.de).