Robots: Humans' Dependable Helpers

Research and Development in Robotic Systems

High Throughput Screening of Active Ingredients in Drug Development

© Fraunhofer IFF

In Germany, 1.2 million people have dementia, two third of them suffering from the Alzheimer's disease. According to the current demographic development, the number of diseased persons will further increase in the next few years. The urgent need for new effective drugs to combat the Alzheimer's disease is obvious. This requires the analysis of potential active ingredients in numerous pre-clinical experiments.


  • Development of a new high throughput test procedure for innovative drug development
  • Development of a technology that rapidly, clearly and reliably forecasts active ingredients and forms of therapy for neuropathological diseases
  • Design, development, construction, and testing of a functional model, which enables the simultaneous testing of up to 384 active ingredients during short or long-time measurements regarding their applicability against Alzheimer's disease


The system can be used throughout the entire value chain, either as a stand-alone system, as portable device, or as part of a higly-integrated, automated robotic and microfluidic plant.

Subproject 4: IMAS Automation

Together with the DZNE, the Leipzig University, the Ilmenau University of Technology and the Fraunhofer IFF Magdeburg, a new procedure – the so-called "impedance-based multiarray screening" was developed. The Fraunhofer IFF designed and constructed a device solution which enables the simultaneous testing of active ingredients against the Alzheimer's disease in up to 384 wells. The functional model mainly consists of a highly precise feed kinematic contacting up to 384 specially-designed multiarray electrodes with an electronic test card.

The "IMAS-Reader" precisely and rapidly performs impedance measurements on living cell and tissue cultures. For this purpose, the device - designed as a stand-alone system – is placed in an incubator. The supply with electricity and compressed air as well as the transfer of measurement data and control commands to the process control system and to the evaluation and visualisation software is carried out by corresponding system interfaces. The functional model is ready for integration in automatic lab installations such as pipetting robots or incubators with plate shuttle systems. Numerous biological tests demonstrated its functionality, including the integrated sub systems developed by the project partners.

Project partners

  • Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen (DZNE), Magdeburg
  • Leipzig University, Centre for Biotechnology and Biomedicine, Leipzig
  • Ilmenau University of Technology, MacroNano®, Ilmenau

The joint project IMAS was supported by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as part of its program "Cooperation between Science and Industry: Innovative Drug Development".