Cell Differentiation

Brief Description

The cell differentiation working group was able to open up a new cell source for regenerative medicine with human stem cells from sweat glands. The particular advantage of sweat gland derived stem cells lies in their easy accessibility and ethical harmlessness. Animal experiments have already shown a positive effect on wound healing.

In particular, the regeneration of blood vessels (revascularisation) could be accelerated by stem cell treatment in animal experiments. Studies have shown that the effect of stem cells is largely due to soluble (paracrine) factors, which are released by the stem cells in the wound environment.

In addition, coculture studies have shown that stem cells have a positive influence on the regeneration of peripheral nerves. The stem cells thus strengthen the natural wound healing process many times over. In the future, stem cells from sweat glands will be made available for clinical applications.

Another branch of research of the cell differentiation working group is the development of new in vitro test systems. Due to the EU-wide ban on animal testing for applications in the cosmetics industry and the strong demand for aluminium-free deodorants, the need for new in vitro skin test systems has risen sharply in recent years.

Due to the long-standing and worldwide unique expertise in the field of stem cell isolation from glands and the production of organoids, cell technology know-how is available which can be used for the development of new test systems.

Research Projects

Electrophysiology of microtissues

The introduction of complex microtissues (e.g. organoids and organotypic test systems) in biomedical research led to a need for new measurement techniques. With the help of electrophysiological methods, such as micro-electrode arrays or patch-clamps, the functionality of cells can already be reliably measured.

Cell-based therapies

Human adult stem cells from sweat glands (SGSCs) have great potential for regenerative therapies. In animal studies, SGSCs have been shown to promote skin wound healing, resulting in increased revascularisation and faster wound closure. In the future, SGSCs will be made available for clinical use. This requires an adaptation of the manufacturing and cultivation process according to GMP guidelines. In addition, further areas of application (e.g. biologization of implants) are to be developed.

Biologization of implants

Peripheral nerves can be severed by accidents, which often leads to a loss of sensory or motor function. With the help of nerve guide rails, artificial transplants are available that do not yet reach the quality of autologous nerve transplants. Co-culture experiments have shown the positive effect of glandular stem cells on peripheral nerves. The next step is to biologise nerve guidance channels with glandular stem cells.

Organoids and Organotypic Test Systems

In the future, the need for alternative methods to animal testing will increase considerably. Organotypic test systems represent an attractive alternative to existing animal models and can contribute to meeting this growing demand. The Fraunhofer EMB has established production and culture conditions for organoids and organotypic tissue sections from different tissues and enables the acquisition of functional tissue parameters.


Effects and side effects of drugs on organs and organ systems are based on effects at the cellular level. The stem cells used and examined for cell therapy are therefore also subject to drug effects. In order to exclude undesired effects or even to recognize positive effects of drugs on stem cells, interactions of drugs on in vitro cultured cells are analyzed.



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