How Do We Explore This Unique Chance

The overview in Chapter 1 provides a taste of the extent to which these technologies could be improved today, and suggests how they might be applied to drug screening or testing. In Chapters 2 and 3, the authors illustrate the progress and challenges to meet the exceptionally high specifications for bioreactors and biosensors in this area, while Chapter 4 provides some examples of how to extend the use of cell culture technologies emulating human organ functions to other areas of application. Today, a number of in-vitro test systems based on three-dimensional (3-D) skin equivalents are available. Most notably, the cosmetics industry - which at least in Europe is facing a regulatory ban on animal tests within the next few years - is relying increasingly on testing strategies involving 3-D human tissue culture. Generally speaking, due to the great complexity of such cultures and the substantial hurdles in terms of human cell supply, standardization issues, miniaturization and automation, the pharmaceutical industry does not currently capitalize on such technologies. However, a number of pharmaceutical companies have implemented drug discovery programs on stem cell and 3D tissue culture tools into their R&D activities. In summarizing the forefront developments in 3-D histotypic tissue cultures, as well as in conventional suspension and monolayer high-throughput testing on primary cells and cell lines, we have attempted to provide a comprehensive review of the methods and tools which form the basis for the development of new platform technologies, allowing the generation of equivalents of each and every human sub-organoid structure of relevance in vitro. As such technologies rely essentially on human cell sources, an effective supply in terms of yield and quality are prerequisites for success. The current status, addressing needs in terms of further expansion of cell and tissue collection and characterization, is outlined in Chapter 9.

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