Health and Environment – Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine is concerned with rebuilding damaged organs. Biological tissue – in particular cartilage and skin – can be grown to help the healing process or to replace large amounts of lost tissue. Tissue Engineering is about using the body’s own cells to reconstruct organs or parts of organs.

Gesundheit und Umwelt

Projects

Skin from the Factory

Bild: Fraunhofer Forum
© Photo Fraunhofer IGB

The skin is the first organ that has been grown successfully in the laboratory using tissue engineering methods. This is partly due to the fact that skin biopsies are readily available and skin cells are relatively easy to culture. Besides the goal of developing skin grafts, the use of artificial skin equivalents as in vitro test system has begun to move to the forefront.

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»SKIN HEAL« – Healing Skin in a Petri Dish

Researchers at five Fraunhofer Institutes want to make the treatment of chronic wounds more effective and enable patients themselves to check whether their open wounds are healing or have become infected with bacteria. The researchers are pooling their expertise in the Beyond Tomorrow project »SkinHeal«.

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Sweat Gland Cells for Autologous Stem Cell Bank and In-Vitro Test Systems

A biopsy punch arranges the biopolymer substrate into the appropriate shape (left). Cells then colonize these circular discs in cell culture vessels (right).
© Photo Fraunhofer EMB

A biopsy punch arranges the biopolymer substrate into the appropriate shape (left). Cells then colonize these circular discs in cell culture vessels (right).

The Fraunhofer Research Institution for Marine Biotechnology EMB has developed a patented process for harvesting human stem cells from sweat glands. This provides a new source of cells for use in regenerative medicine. Stem cells harvested from sweat glands have the distinct advantages of being easy to procure and raising no ethical concerns. Establishing a cell bank that stores autologous (the body’s own) stem cells opens up promising new treatment options. In addition, isolated human sweat glands are ideal organotypical, in-vitro test systems that can help the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries to screen bioactive substances.

Innovative Therapy Method for the Treatment of Brain Tumors

Manufacturing cell products at the Fraunhofer IZI´s clean room facilitiy.
© Photo Fraunhofer IZI

Manufacturing cell products at the Fraunhofer IZI´s clean room facilitiy.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI and the American company Northwest Biotherapeutics Inc. are cooperating in the development of production processes and establishment of an innovative therapy method for the treatment of glioblastomas (brain tumors) in Europe.

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Frauhofer Research Units

Central Biobank for Drug Research

For the development of new drugs it is crucial to work with stem cells, as these allow scientists to study the effects of new active pharmaceutical ingredients. But it has always been difficult to derive enough stem cells of the right quality and in the right timeframe. A central biobank is about to remedy the situation.