Spin-Off Eliminates Animal Testing




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Chemical, medication and cosmetic manufacturers are obligated to test their products for possible health risks using appropriate means, as stipulated by various European guidelines. Animal testing is frequently used to determine the dangers of such products to the human eye. Aside from ethical reasons, arguments against this form of testing include high costs, delays due to approval procedures, and concerns whether the results from animal testing can be extrapolated safely to human beings.


Scientists from the Institute of Solid-State Technology of RWTH Aachen are now involved in leading the founding of the company KERATAS. The name comes from the Greek word keratos, meaning cornea. It shall solve the dilemma, on the one hand, to produce obligatory proof of product acceptability and, on the other hand, the protection of animals.

The planned company will provide a new means of analyzing the impacts of chemical, pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic products without using animals. To do so, animal corneas gathered from slaughterhouse waste will be used, which maintain their full biological activity over several weeks using organ culture techniques. Combined with a special analysis of the trial process, the procedure demonstrates the healing process without harming living animals for the first time.

Along with RWTH scientists Dr. Felix Spöler, Dr. Stefan Kray and Oya Kray, MSc, the experts at the first RWTH-Affiliated Institute, ACTO (Aachen Center for the Transfer of Technology in Ophthalmology), will contribute their expertise under the supervision of Prof. Norbert Schrage. Businessman Georg Langstrof completes the founding team. The company’s goal is to commercialize the universal testing platform developed for eye-specific pharmacology and toxicology by the founders.

Funding from the EXIST Program

Since the beginning of April, KERATAS – Services and Products for the Analysis of the Impacts of Pharmaceutical, Medical, Cosmetic and Chemical Products on the Eye Without the Use of Animal Testing has been funded by the EXIST research transfer program from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

The program “supports outstanding, research-based foundation proposals”. It provides scientists with the opportunity to first determine the feasibility of their business idea and then to initiate the founding of the company beyond the university. The proposal is further supported by consultancy services from the RWTH Entrepreneurship Center (de) at the Chair Of Business Administration and Entrepreneurship.