"The success rate can be better than the 10 per cent", explains Stephen Fey, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark.
Together with his colleague Krzysztof Wrzesinski, postdoc at the same place, he is the leading scientist behind the groundbreaking discovery. The researchers' work is published in two articles in the journal Toxicology Research, issues 2 and 3, 2013.
"The breakthrough is that now we can test drugs on human liver cells that are more natural than the cell lines used by the pharmaceutical industry. Laboratory cells today do not have much in common with the natural cells that live in the human body, "says Stephen Fey.
In a human body, cells are able to communicate with each other and exchange valuable information. If cells that think they are alone they behave differently than they do when other cells are around. The isolated cells spend all their energy on multiplying and therefore can no longer perform their advanced functions.
The reason that laboratories work with cells that poorly communicate with each other, is not laziness, nor ignorance. In order to keep the cells alive, you have to expose them to a rather rough treatment that removes their ability to communicate. If you leave the cell line inside a container and feed them, they multiply and become overcrowded - the problem is that they will pile up on top of each other. This will prevent the bottom cells from getting oxygen and nutrients and this will eventually kill them.
In order to prevent the cells from dying, an enzyme called trypsin can be added to detach the cells from each other so that the cells can b
|Contact: Birgitte Svennevig|
University of Southern Denmark