Non-invasive toxicity testing
Mannheim – German researchers have patented a non-invasive sensor chip that can permanently monitor kidney and liver function. “Our chip can be used for toxicity testing of preclinical drugs in animals. Next year, we are going to apply for the CE mark to use it in human diagnostics,” Prof. Norbert Gretz from Mannheim University told EuroBiotechNews. Through the skin, the sensor measures how fast flourescence-labelled, organ-specific markers are eliminated from the bloodstream. An LED excites the labelled markers in the blood and tracks their fluorescence in real-time with a photodiode.
“We have already miniaturised our chip, which continously sends all its data to a PC,” says Gretz. Currently, chip size is only 3 x 3 x 2 mm, but the researchers want to shrink it even further for use on mice in preclinical drug candidate testing. Gretz is planning to commercialise the technique soon, saying he plans to begin with services to the biopharmaceutical industry. Because both the liver and fluorescence marker have already been approved for diagnostic purposes, only the device has to apply for the CE mark.
Gretz has also shown that his invention works for kidney function testing. Within the EU’s ‘Place-it’ project, he provided the proof-of-concept. In the EU project, elimination speed of fluorescein-labeled inulin was used to monitor the kidney function of rats (publication submitted), but Gretz will be using “a biomarker that gives a stronger signal” for developing the diagnostic test.
According to the researcher, the best way to commercialise his device would be to develop a prototype, optimise it with a partner and then market it with in cooperation with a strong sales organisation.