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“Staatspreis” for animal testing alternatives goes to Peter Ertl

The biochips that are being developed at the Vienna University of Technology – in the laboratory of the cell chip research group headed by Prof. Peter Ertl – are about the size of a credit card. These chips are used to carry out experiments with tiny cell samples in a precisely controlled manner. In the future, they should represent an animal-friendly and scientifically more precise alternative to animal testing in the development of medicines. On April 13, Peter Ertl was awarded the “Staatspreis” for the Promotion of Alternative Methods to Animal Experiments for his research work, awarded by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. 
In biochips, miniature tissues of different sizes can be produced simultaneously in a precisely controlled manner. The chemical environment of the mini-tissues in different chambers can be controlled using a sophisticated system of fine micro-channels: They can be supplied with nutrients or specific concentrations of test substances. This makes the cell experiments reproducible and more meaningful. 
“This technology can not only replace animal experiments, it can even provide significantly better data than animal experiments,” explains Peter Ertl. With the help of stem cells, one could carry out personalized tests and try out in the chip how the cells of a very specific person react to different drugs. Work is currently being done on combining tissue from different organs in one and the same chip – this also allows interactions between them to be precisely examined.