Cell-based screenings are used today in all types of clinical developments and safety assessment of new drugs and chemicals. The major change in the last decade is a shift towards more physiologically relevant yet complex and sensitive cell models, like stem cells, and more recently, the shift to human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). Stem cell technology has the potential to revolutionise drug discovery and safety assessment, and opens up the path for personalised medicine and regenerative medicine approaches.
DropTech® was a collaborative project funded by the European Commission with more than €5.2M in funding within the FP7 programme. It started on 1st February 2014 and was completed after 36 months on 31st January 2017. Coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT), Germany, the goal of DropTech® was to develop automated production and handling processes for stem cells (e.g. hiPSCs) in hanging drops with integrated readout methods, required for the use of stem cells in high throughput assays such as the embryonic stem cell test (EST) used in toxicity testing.
The fully automated DropTech® platform developed within the project allows controlling cell culture conditions in very small volumes, and is hence be usable for reproducible and standardised high throughput screening in a variety of applications, ranging from lead compound identification over toxicity testing to cell preparation for regenerative medicine.