Project FibroPaths®

Therapeutic modulation of organ fibrosis in biochip format

© Jan Weusthoff
Histology of a human heart slice with more than 40 percent fibrotic area; collagen accumulations as a sign of fibrosis are colored red.

More than 100 million individuals worldwide suffer from organ fibrosis. Fibrosis is a pathological proliferation of connective tissue in the affected organ, such as the lung, heart and liver, and there is hardly any causal treatment available. About 45 percent of all deaths can be linked to fibrosis. This trend is further enhanced by changing lifestyles, higher age, industrialization, and additional health burdens such as the Corona pandemic.

Two drugs have been approved for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis. Apart from these, existing treatments are mainly symptomatic. This unmet medical need is partly due to the fact that the disease models available for fibrosis research are insufficient and little predictive:

  • The available in-vitro and ex-vivo methods do not provide a sufficient time frame for studying fibrosis.
  • The predictivity of animal experiments is insufficient for fibrosis research.
  • No combination of imaging, molecular and functional parameters is available for the characterization of organ fibroses.

FibroPaths® aims to enable rapid and safe development of antifibrotic drugs

Fibrosis is a pathological process that develops over a long period of time. As a result, the transferability and extrapolation of nonclinical data to humans poses a problem. By providing substantial internal funds for the FibroPaths® project, Fraunhofer is addressing this issue, aiming to provide a new preclinical test system that is based on human tissue and enables testing of antifibrotic candidate drugs in the standardized and automated form of a biochip. The biochip is cryoconservable, suited for long-term culture and allows extensive structural, molecular and functional characterization of fibrotic processes.

In addition, the project will include comprehensive functional and molecular data analyses using artificial intelligence-assisted methods, and the establishment of a corresponding database. 

Synergistic expertise of four Fraunhofer institutes

 

Project expertise of Fraunhofer ITEM

  • Human precision-cut organ tissue slices, long-term culture and cryoconservation 
  • Bioinformatic analyses of cardiac fibrosis patterns and integrative analysis of  complex omics data (in particular transcriptome, proteome, metabolome)

Project contact persons: Thomas Thum, Katherina Sewald, Antje Prasse, Jan Fiedler

 

Project expertise of Fraunhofer IWS

  • Custom-tailored microphysiological systems (MPS platform) for dynamic long-term culturing of different tissues

Project contact person: Frank Sonntag

 

Project expertise of Fraunhofer MEVIS

  • Unrivaled AI technology base for histological image analysis (incl. Histokat, QuantMed)
  • Statistics expertise for biomarker detection

Project contact person: Andrea Schenk

 

Project expertise of Fraunhofer IMW

  • Market and demand analyses
  • Business model development 

Project contact person: Julia Busch-Casler

Your contact persons for FibroPaths®

Thomas  Thum

Contact Press / Media

Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Thum

Fraunhofer ITEM Director and FibroPaths® Project Leader

Phone +49 511 5350-121

Sabine Kafert-Kasting

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Sabine Kafert-Kasting

Project Management FibroPaths®

Phone +49 511 5350-363