Tissue Engineering for Drug Development and Substance Testing
Structure and history
The national Competence Centre Tissue Engineering for Drug Development and Substance Testing TEDD was founded in 2011 by the members of section «Tissue Engineering» at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) lead by Prof. Ursula Graf-Hausner and company InSphero AG, Swiss leading supplier of organotypic in vitro 3D microtissues for drug testing.
TEDD received initial funding from Gebert Ruef Foundation . In 2010 the project was one of the winners of the annual call for projects «BREF – Brückenschläge mit Erfolg» (building bridges successfully). TEDD is embedded in the ZHAW, in the national consortium for biotechnology biotechnet Switzerland and the National Thematic Network (NTN) Swiss Biotech.
TEDD was established together with the introduction of 3D cell cultures technologies to wider audience. The goal of us is to support development of these complex tissue systems and implement it into the routine application. In order to maximize the success, cooperation of partners with complementary skills –academia, industry (in particular biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medtech and cosmetics companies) and clinics is required. 3D cell culture became a widely acceptable and desirable technology, however it did not yet reach its full potential. Therefore, further efforts should be made to maintain progress of 3D cell technologies development. The goal of us is to support the 3R principles implementation and introduction of 3D cell culture technologies as alternative for animal testing which can be used in your company.
Concept and motivation
Cell cultures are an invaluable technology used widely from basic research to industrial applications. The conventional 2D cell culture systems, based on cell lines and primary cells, has been used for a long time to understand the complex cellular physiology i.e. on how cells function and respond to stimuli. They have been also used in regenerative medicine, production of substances such as antibodies and in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry to test compounds and drug candidates. However, technological advancements are necessary to address emerging complex challenges of the traditional systems.
3D cell culture technology
Physiological relevance is a key parameter for improving the predictive power of cell-based technologies. To achieve in vivo like features in in vitro cell culture, recently three dimensional (3D) culture systems were introduced. 3D cell cultures recapitulate tissue architecture, cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions in physiological manner. This area is one of the fastest growing experimental approaches in life sciences. The three dimensional cell culture market was $438.1 million in 2013. The market was expected to grow to $586.1 million in 2014 and about $2.2 billion in 2019, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.1% (3D Cell Culture: Technologies and Global Markets. (Jan 2015) BCC Research Biotechnology Report).
First advances have been achieved, e.g. in tumor models, and 3D cell culture is currently entering the next phase, technology maturation, i.e. optimization of assays, protocols and kits, which should further facilitate its wider adoption. The compatibility with automated lab equipment and suitability for middle and high throughput screening (HTS) has been established for simple 3D models but have to be further developed for more complex systems for routine drug screening. Biomimetic tissue constructs that reproduce and model organotypic 3D structure that contain several types of cells are also emerging. They have in particular big potential for use in personalized and regenerative medicine but still require more investigation, especially in the clinical context.
3R meets 3D
Cell culture as alternative to animal testing
Animals are currently used in studies, where an absolute requirement for tissue-specific information is needed, such as in drug efficacy and toxicity testing. For example in cancer research, tumor is established in rodent models by either surgically implanting tumor cells, patient derived xenografts (PDX) or creating genetically-engineered animals that spontaneously develop human-like tumors. However, animal testing often fails to predict the effects of drugs on human. Moreover, the use of animals in research, teaching and testing is an important ethical and political issue, because many of these experiments cause pain to the animals involved or reduce their quality of life.
These facts are motivating governments and regulatory organizations around the globe to support the implementation of alternative methods for animal testing. 3R principles (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement) have subsequently become embedded in national and international legislation regulating the use of animals in scientific procedures. In vitro 3D cell culture have the potential to replace in vivo animal testing and provide more reliable data as they bridge the in vitro to in vivo gap between cell and human tissues. 3D cultures may greatly improve cell-based drug screening and identify toxic and ineffective substances at an earlier stage of the drug discovery pipeline than animal or clinical trials. Moreover, they can reduce ethically controversial animal testing.
We combines diverse skills through integrative cooperation among the partners to form a powerful and successful network. Our competences include:
- 3D cell and tissue models
- Assay development
- Imaging technologies
- Molecular reporter systems
- Standardization and quality standards
- Biomimetic scaffold substances