Covid-19-lung-chip – Drug repurposing using a COVID-19 infection model in an immunocompetent lung-on-chip platform

The C19 lung model is used to test the efficacy of already approved drug candidates. For this purpose, Fraunhofer IGB, IZI and IME combine competences in conducting pharmaceutical studies in human organ-on-chip systems and in establishing infection models.

One of the few chances of quickly having a therapeutic against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is the repurposing of already approved drugs. Therefore, investigations just need to prove their effectiveness. However, clinical studies are difficult to conduct in the current situation and animal models for COVID-19 are severely limited. Due to the complexity of SARS-CoV-2 infection, the lack of knowledge about the exact pathogenesis and the special importance of the human immune system, organ-on-chip systems offer a new possibility of testing drugs in non-clinical studies in a meaningful way.

In the anti-corona project "C19 lung chip" a COVID-19 infection model is being developed based on the already established immunocompetent lung-on-chip system of the company Dynamic42. The infection model will replicate the pathogenesis of COVID-19 and will be used to test the efficacy of up to 40 different drugs or drug combinations from Fraunhofer libraries and the candidates identified in the anti-corona projects CoroVacc and ISE-CoV-2-Screen.

To achieve this, the Fraunhofer Institutes IGB, IZI (Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology) and IME (Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology) together with the industrial partner Dynamic42 are pooling their expertise in the development of human organ‑on‑chip models, the application of these models for pharmaceutical studies and the establishment of infection models for research on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The model will subsequently be made available to interested companies for testing their own active substances.

Uninfected lung epithelium.
© Fraunhofer IGB
Uninfected lung epithelium.
Infected lung epithelium.
© Fraunhofer IGB
Infected lung epithelium.

Project information

Project title

C19 lung chip – Drug repurposing using a COVID-19 infection model in an immunocompetent lung-on-chip platform


Project duration

June 2020 – May 2021


Project partners

  • Fraunhofer IME-MB
  • Fraunhofer IZI


Project funding

This work was supported by the Fraunhofer InternaI Programs under Grant No. Anti-Corona 840235 (»Fraunhofer vs. Corona«)