Human placenta explants for medication tests

Contact person

Prof. Andreas Schober
Nano-Biosystems Engineering Group

Phone: +49 3677 69-3387

Funding information

Project leader: Projektträger Jülich GmbH/VDI/VDE IT GmbH

Project number: 03VP08691

Participating groups: Nano-Biosystems Engineering Group 

Period of funding: 01.03.2021 - 29.02.2024

Project information

The placenta is the pivotal point for the medication of the foetus and/or the expectant mother. The placenta can be a permeable organ for drugs, environmental molecules, etc., but also a barrier-forming or metabolising organ. Toxicologically, the placenta is therefore of utmost importance. This description of the situation is in stark contrast to the fact that potential drugs for pregnant women tend to be regarded as drugs for rare diseases, so-called "orphan drugs". Surprisingly, drugs are very rarely tested for pregnant women. The "drugs affect the fetus protective function" is difficult to capture in animal studies in a human-relevant way. The reproductive toxicology analysis therefore evasively considers the entire fetus as the "target organ". This analysis is inherently tied to animal studies, specifically primate studies, among others, which are required by law as soon as drugs administered during pregnancy are developed. The societal need for efficient, relevant, cost-effective and, above all, feasible tests for drugs administered during pregnancy is thus evident. The human placenta or explants from it could be used for toxicological testing if certain criteria can be defined. The toxicological and fluidic characterisation of explants from the placenta should therefore be standardised and validated within the framework of this project.