The cause, course and treatment of a disease such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, diseases of the central nervous and the respiratory system, are significantly influenced by individual genetic attributes and living conditions. Modern medicine increasingly recognizes and addresses these differences between human individuals and terms this concept ‘personalized medi- cine’. Due to the tumor heterogeneity personalized approaches are especially relevant for cancer therapy. This is as well reflect- ed in the “national decade against cancer” proclaimed by the German federal government to set the focus on the uniqueness of every human individual. Patients are expected to significantly benefit from precisely targeted therapies based on a person- alized initial and companion diagnosis and a quasi-continuous monitoring of disease progression.
For more than two decades Fraunhofer IMM develops technical solutions for microfluidic-based analysis systems to be applied in life sciences, medical research/diagnosis and biological media analysis comprising the detection of pathogens in natural body fluids (such as whole blood, plasma, serum, sputum and urine), industrial media and water as well as the analysis of organic samples. Microfluidics enables robust solutions with new func- tionality and offers opportunities for significantly saving costs and time in (diagnostic) analysis processes. Our microfluidic processes and techniques allow to overcome limitations with respect to fast, locally available and precise diagnostic tests that still exist for near patient, on-site testing, operating inside and outside the established large central laboratories. The approach- es enable the provision of in-depth diagnostic parameters that are so far unused. The importance for such an improved, fast and flexible diagnostic testing became directly obvious during the Corona crisis. Sample preparation is a vital part of our activ- ities when developing the corresponding microfluidic cartridges and functional systems. Besides, we also use microfluidics to enable automated on-line quality control of cell based pro- cesses. Among others this is required for the future automated production of advanced therapy medical products, which is a precondition to make such personalized medical products applicable and affordable on a large scale.