Short portrait

Project Title:
Establishment of the human induced pluripotent stem cell test as alternative to animal testing in the analysis of embryo and developmental toxic potential of chemicals (CERST-NRW)


2015 - 2021

By the Ministry for Culture and Science of North-Rhine Westphalia (MKW; former Ministry for Innovation, Science and Research of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia, MIWF) with 200.000 euro per year.

Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Ellen Fritsche, IUF


For many chemicals in use, there is insufficient information about their toxicity in humans. This is due to historical reasons. The new European regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) intends to fill this gap. In order to manage this, a series of automatable, time saving and cost-effective toxicity tests is needed. At the same time, there is a great interest to develop alternatives to animal testing.

Project description

CERST aims to develop two cell based tests that can serve to investigate the influence of chemicals (including medications) on the development of unborn and infants. Therefore, so-called „human induced pluripotent stem cells“ (hiPSC) are used. They are made from human skin cells provided by voluntary donors. The hiPSCs are differentiated into heart muscle cells and brain cells in order to identify substances that interfere with the development of these cells. The reliability of these tests can then be determined in comparison with available data from humans and animal model systems. The long term goal of this project is to contribute to a test battery that allows to test chemicals on their embryo and developmental neurotoxic potential without animal testing.