(L-R) Thomas Kallstenius, CEO of LIST; Eva Kremer, Board Chair of LIST; Arno Gutleb, Managing Director of Invitrolize; Credit: LIST

Invitrolize, the latest spin-off of the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), which aims to detect chemical respiratory irritants early in product development, inaugurated its new laboratory on Thursday 27 April 2023 in Belvaux.

Chemical-induced respiratory sensitisation is a global health issue that can result in allergic respiratory tract diseases. However, commonly available and legally approved methods for identifying skin sensitisers do not differentiate between skin and respiratory allergens.

According to LIST, this lack of established in vivo or in vitro techniques for detecting and describing chemical respiratory allergens, as well as the differentiation of these from contact allergens, creates a significant barrier for industries. The latter are only able to determine whether a product is a sensitiser once it is already on the market.

Invitrolize, a LIST spin-off created in 2022, has created a 3D alveolar in vitro model ALIsensTM, which enables the prediction of hazardous respiratory sensitisation under realistic exposure conditions and early in product development. Invitrolize built in vitro models using human cell lines based on a patented methodology and the technology avoids animal testing.

LIST researchers within the Environmental Health Group of the Environmental Research and Innovation Department created this innovation in 2008.

Starting out as a self-funded project by LIST, two PhD students, Sebastien Klein and Aline Chary, were recruited to develop the technology after it showed encouraging first results. The Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) funded two projects and about ten years later, the idea became a reality. A proof of concept / prototype was then built and patented. Along the way, it has gone on to receive several prizes and has been tested in EU funded projects which have edged this frontier research closer to market. Invitrolize has already collaborated with companies such as Evonik.

It has been a lot of hard work involving many dedicated people in my group,” said Arno Gutleb, Managing Director of Invitrolize. “I look forward to start this new chapter of Invitrolize and in my career.