A Novel Multichamber Bioreactor System for Early Stage Toxicology Screening


Arti Ahluwalia, University of Pisa, Italy and J Malcolm Wilkinson, Kirkstall Ltd. Sheffield, UK


There is a great need to reduce the cost of developing new pharmaceuticals. About 75% of this cost is attributed to failed drugs. Using more discriminatory tests of efficacy and toxicity should eliminate suboptimal compounds earlier in development.

High Throughput Screening HTS is used prior to animal studies and produces a large amount of data in a very short time, but suffers because the tissue grown in wells is only a poor approximation of the biological reality. Factors that are missing in this environment include convective flow of nutrients, pressure peaks, and gradients of concentration. This paper describes some results from a novel multi-chamber bioreactor system, which is the result of over 5 years research in the University of Pisa and is now being commercialised by a UK company, Kirkstall Ltd. The MCB provides all the factors which are missing in HTS and also co- cultures more than one cell type thereby allowing collateral effects of drugs on different tissues to be studied.

The objective of this study is to demonstrate that the MCB can be an effective high-throughput toxicological screen. We present some comparison of the results from the existing MCB system with that of simpler cellular assays.


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