Three-dimensional (3D) skin models as in-vitro test system

New drugs and substances must be tested for quality, efficacy and safety before they are approved. In drug research, animal testing is an important standard tool, but due to species-specific differences, it is not always useful for the approval of new substances or the implementation of new therapies in humans.

With the implementation of REACH, the European Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals, non-animal risk assessment methods are the preferred choice for the investigation of new chemicals.

According to the 3R principle, animal experiments must be avoided completely wherever possible (Replace), the number of animals and animal experiments must be reduced (Reduce) where this is not possible yet, and the burdon on animals must be limited to an indispensable level by continuously optimizing the methods applied (Refinement).

Patented skin model as an alternative to animal testing

We have developed and established a patented three-dimensional human skin equivalent that represents the complex physiology of the skin, including the intact skin barrier.

Complex 3D reporter skin models for in vitro testing on living tissue

One focus of our work is the integration of components of the innate immune system or reporter cell lines. Special reporter genes make cell reactions visible by activating a cellular signaling cascade. In this way, our models can be used, for example, to determine the toxicity or allergenicity of cosmetics and chemicals quickly and precisely on a living model – without the need for time-consuming preparation of histological sections for microscopic examination.


Immunocompetent skin infection model

We develop three-dimensional skin models that include components of human skin as well as immune cells and reporter systems for the activation of immune signaling pathways. This allows the investigation of innate immune responses to invading fungi and viruses and the identification of ways to modulate host responses.


Human 3D psoriasis skin model

In the "Psoriceptors" project, we have established a novel human 3D psoriasis skin model which mimicks the psoriasis-typical inflammatory reaction. Since toll-like receptors (TLR) play a role in the development of psoriasis the model is suited for screening for molecules with TLR inhibitory activity as potential active substances.


Reporter-skin for detecting cell stress

We have established a set of in-vivo 3D reporter skin models which can be used to determine the toxicological potential of a substance as well as to specifically and rapidly read out the activation of various cellular stress signaling pathways by the test substance in the same model.

Further test systems


Test system for investigating inhalation toxicological effects of airborne substances

Breathing through mouth masks, substances from the mask can enter the lungs via the inhaled air. To investigate the inhalation toxicological effects of such airborne substances, we established an in-vitro test system using a culture system of Fraunhofer ITEM and an adapted reporter cell line used for identification of allergy- and asthma-inducing effects.


In-vitro canine skin equivalents for veterinary therapeutics testing

Veterinary drugs or dermatological care products for pets are often used without prior testing for efficacy or human products are applied. In the WowWowSkin project, the IGB is developing an in-vitro model for dog skin to allow standardized testing of pet therapeutics and care products.