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Development of in-vitro models for pre-clinical research

The need for physiologically relevant cellular models, which can help to understand function and mechanism of diseases, as well as allow the prediction of potentially toxic effects in humans and provide insight into the mechanisms and pathways by which chemicals exert their adverse effects on cells, organs and organism is particularly perceived in preclinical Drug Discovery and Toxicology.

The main objective of our work is to develop tri-dimensional (3D) cell culture systems that, by better mimicking the cellular environment of the human organism, will facilitate the integration of data of pre-clinical assays in the toxicology and drug-screening areas, allowing for a reduction in the number of animal experiments and contributing to the fast approval and release of biopharmaceuticals into the market. We use scalable stirred tank bioreactors to culture different 3D cellular structures according to the characteristics and requirements of each cell type: cell aggregation; cell immobilization on microcarriers and cell encapsulation in biocompatible inert polymers. To characterize cellular populations in the 3D cellular structures we use specific functional assays for each cell phenotype and several techniques such as immunofluorescence and live confocal microscopy, flow cytometry and qRT-PCR.

We have been focusing mainly on three applications: toxicology, brain research and cancer research.

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