IMTEK coordinates European project PASCA
The Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK), University of Freiburg , is the principal technology partner and project coordinator of the EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development research project PASCA (Platform for Advanced Single Cell Manipulation and Analysis). With its launch on September 1st 2010, the PASCA project will develop an innovative platform for the manipulation and analysis of single living cells. The central theme of the project is the printing of such cells confined in micro-droplets of only one tenth of a millimetre in diameter. The mid-term objective of the seven research institutions and companies working together is to establish a platform for the manipulation, culture, and analysis of individual living biological cells without loss of viability.
Living biological cells and cell cultures are the essential ingredient of a wide array of life sciences research, from the genetic basis and mechanism of disease to drug development and drug-cell interactions. So far, cells cannot be easily isolated and systematically analyzed individually. They are commonly manipulated only as an unordered, unsorted, heterogeneous cell assembly often after lengthy periods of cell culture and isolation. This limits the depth of perspective that can be gained using modern single cell analysis methods, on single cell interactions and on the behaviour of a single cell type in a mixed cell or tissue system. The Single Cell Manipulation (SCM) technology, which will be investigated within the project, promises to open up new opportunities for enhanced life science research, especially in areas such as cell biology, stem cell research, cancer research, drug development, and in the fabrication of artificial organs.
Microsystems technology, as a cross-cutting and interdisciplinary technology provides essential technologies and processes to separate and isolate cells eg. by using sensor controlled methods in microchannels, and uses technologies similar to ink-jet printing to print cells on substrates confined in micro-droplets. Before the vision of a "single-cell printer" can become reality, there are three years of intensive research ahead for the project team. The basic feasibility of the method has been demonstrated experimentally, however reliable and manageable prototypes will be developed, which can be used to explore new and scientifically relevant methods for single cell experiments. In this regard, IMTEK is intensively supported by the project partners Sophion Bioscience A/S ( Denmark ), University of Dublin , Trinity College ( Ireland ), Primadiag SAS ( France ), BioFluidix GmbH ( Germany ), Zurich Instruments AG ( Switzerland ) and INNOPROT ( Spain ).
A central element of the European Union funded PASCA project, with a budget of about three million Euros is the international collaboration of a team of multidisciplinary scientists. They wish to make the new method for single cell manipulation available to other researchers and to explore new applications together. Prospective research institutions and scientists who are interested in obtaining information or participating in the project are invited to log on to the website www.pasca.eu.
German Press Release