In vitro Test Systems

Projects NANOSCH/nanoBBB

Close to reality systems for the investigation of the interaction between nanoparticles and biological material

Chip for nanoparticle analysis
© Fraunhofer IMM
Chip for nanoparticle analysis in biological systems

During the past years enormous progress could be achieved in materials sciences and nanotechnology. Due to the excellent controllability of synthesis processes we can nowadays realize nanoscale particles with tailor-made properties. As questions with respect to environmental dangers and health risks for people are still unaccounted for, we meet the existing demand by novel in vitro test systems allowing examining the interaction with biological material. Being able to reflect the real conditions as close as possible (for instance in a blood vessel or at the blood brain barrier) is of high importance.


Using a high precision pump we can expose the test substances in microfluidic chips against sample material in a controlled manner, applying close to reality conditions (such as in flow), even at very short time scales (e. g. seconds range). Moreover, we have a long-term expertise in examining the interaction of particles with cells (also under flow conditions). If required and requested, we complement microfluidic exposure studies with a comprehensive sample analysis which is available in-house.

Properties and application areas

Nanoparticles can often be found in different areas of everyday life. Even for the treatment of so far incurable diseases (such as cancer, dementia) nano-based active ingredients are promising candidates to get a successful treatment. Our systems can be used for:

  • A controlled exposition of particles (size: 50 nm up to 10 µm) against
    biological samples (such as blood plasma, saliva, lymph),
  • the assay development to achieve the functionalization of nano and micro particles with bio molecules in a microfluidic channel (including washing steps),
  • the analysis of the behavior of particles in an artificial blood vessel
    (where appropriate with patient material → personalized medicine),
  • the passage of particles across a blood brain barrier model,
  • the analysis of the absorption and toxicity of the particles in different cell models.  

Our research & development services

We accompany our partners from the basic idea via exploratory work, exposure/incorporation and viability analysis up to the realization of test systems and functional models. This includes:

  • Exposure studies - (nano)based active ingredients against bio fluids and cell/organ models,
  • analytics (for instance flow cytometry, fluorescence microscopy, analytical disc centrifugation),
  • co-staining of cellular compartments (for instance cell nucleus, membrane, mitochondria, lysosomes, determination of cell viability, intracellular localization of particles),
  • prototype construction,
  • technology transfer to industrial partners.