Schlieren ZH - InSphero is joining forces with companies such as Pfizer, Sanofi and Genentech. The partners plan to better investigate the potential negative effects of new medicinal products on the liver. 3D microtissues created by the start-up based in the Greater Zurich Area are being used for this.

Image credit: InSphero


InSphero has formed a pre-competitive consortium with PfizerSanofiMerck Healthcare KGaA and the Roche subsidiary Genentech according to a press release. The aim of the partnership is to recognize the potential negative side effects of new medicinal products at an early phase. They are focusing specifically on drug-induced liver injury (DILI).

Armin Wolf, Chief Scientific Officer at InSphero, explains in the press release that DILI is a common reason why drug development is stopped. Before starting clinical trials, the safety assessment of new medicinal products is usually conducted by animal testing. However, this is not always reliable. For this reason, the consortium plans to conduct preclinical trials with the aid of 3D microtissues from both animals and humans.

InSphero specializes in developing these 3D microtissues. As such, the start-up will conduct the investigations. The other participating pharmaceutical companies will provide a range of DILI substances. These substances could for example come from drug programs that have been stopped that were well documented.

InSphero will compare its results from the organic processes in a test tube (in vitro) with the results already observed by the pharmaceutical companies in living organisms (in vivo). A reliable in vitro platform for the liver is then to be developed that can predict the DILI risk of drug candidates before clinical trials are started.

Phil Hewitt, Global Head of Early Investigative Toxicology at Merck Healthcare KGaA, is quoted in the press release saying: “Having a validated liver model for all relevant preclinical test species would greatly improve our ability to both predict DILI and retrospectively assess potential clinical mechanisms.”

InSphero is a spin-off from the University of Zurich (UZH) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH).

Contact us

Can we put you in touch with a peer company or research institute? Do you need any information regarding your strategic expansion to Switzerland's technology and business center? Give us a call or drop us a line. 

+41 44 254 59 59