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On 16 November 2018, an international jury of experts will award the Lush Prize for the sixth time in Berlin. The prize, worth around 430,000 euros, has provided more than two million euros in funding since 2012 for projects to research and teach animal-free test methods. This year, Munich-based cellasys GmbH has been nominated in the science category.

Founded in 2007 as a spin-off of the Technical University of Munich, the company is working together with 56 other nominees from 17 countries against animal experiments in science and with its skin-on-a-chip model, artificially generated skin models can be used for toxicological investigations. “Cellasys GmbH does not carry out any animal experiments and does not commission any,” says Dr. Joachim Wiest, Managing Director of cellasys GmbH.

Wiest himself has been researching at the interface between electronics and living systems since his graduation in 2001. Out of this motivation, he also decided some time ago to become a member of the German Animal Welfare Association. cellasys also works closely together with the Academy for Animal Welfare in Neubiberg near Munich and conducts research in the academy’s laboratories.

The Skin-on-a-Chip model was developed by Frank A. Alexander, Sebastian Eggert and Joachim Wiest in cooperation with the Academy for Animal Welfare of the German Animal Welfare Association. Alexander now works in the USA and Eggert lives in Australia.

In the Skin-on-a-Chip project, an automated method was developed for the first time to electronically observe 3D skin models over a longer period of time and to evaluate the effect of new substances. The so-called air-liquid interface ensures that the change of the skin in the air can be reproduced computer-controlled.

This is a special feature in this research direction and therefore very similar to the natural conditions on the skin. “With the skin-on-a-chip model, human skin models can now be used automatically and reproducibly instead of animal experiments for toxicological investigations,” confirms Wiest. He himself wants to develop models that have a better prediction of human processes and improve their reproducibility.

Cellasys GmbH also passes on its clear position against animal experiments and its experience in this field to its junior students. Within this framework, a wide variety of work is supervised, from student internships to bachelor’s and master’s degrees and postdocs. “The funding will be used to introduce the Skin-on-a-Chip technology to a wider public, to accelerate industrial implementation and to establish further 3D models on the IMOLA-IVD technology,” emphasizes the managing director.

In the coming days, we will present the individual areas in which cellasys is active: toxicology, medicine, environment and basic research.