Controlled Ethanol Cell Culture System

Period of Performance: 07/01/2004 - 12/31/2005


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Giner, Inc.
89 Rumford Avenue Array
Newton, MA 02466
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Controlled exposure of primary and cultured cells to ethanol is an important experimental aspect of current biomolecular level research for the treatment of alcohol use disorders such as alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse. The results of this research are expected to provide greatly improved modalities of prevention and treatment for these expensive and debilitating conditions. Research is ongoing to enhance our understanding of the origins of alcohol dependence and abuse, tolerance for alcohol, fetal alcohol syndrome, and organ damage from alcohol use. The high volatility of ethanol necessitates an experimental set-up that gives accurate, convenient control of ethanol levels. Thus, the overall goal of the proposed program is to develop and commercialize equipment for controlled ethanol cell culture experiments and to demonstrate its applicability in this important area of medical research. Giner, Inc. with its expertise in ethanol sensors, engineering systems, and cell culture applications is uniquely qualified to engineer this research tool that can enhance the fundamental research conducted by scientists such as cell biologists, physiologists, and neurobiologists. In Phase I, Giner, Inc. proposes to develop a system that will accurately control ethanol (50-800 mg/dl) in a chamber designed to hold cell culture dishes. The novel system, to be used inside a standard cell culture incubator, will include an electrochemical ethanol sensor, a method of modifying ethanol concentration, and a feedback control system to regulate the ethanol concentration. The Phase I prototype will provide a substantially improved ethanol control technique for all researchers compared to the techniques in current use. In Phase II, the Phase I prototype will be refined, packaged and tested in cell culture applications. In addition, in Phase II, an advanced control system will be designed and implemented that will be especially useful in research where the primary cell or cultured cell line metabolizes ethanol rapidly, and regulation of ethanol concentration is therefore more complex. Economic Impact/Commercial Potential. The proposed controlled ethanol cell culture systems would be specialty research equipment for the alcohol research community. These systems will improve the effectiveness of research on alcohol-related disease, which in the long term will have a large economic impact on health care and national productivity. The system could be made commercially available with Giner, Inc. producing custom systems for individual researchers. For more widespread commercial distribution, the technology could be distributed through companies that specialize in specialty research equipment. Additional commercial potential could result from modifying the system for use with other volatile compounds in toxicology testing and from adapting just the ethanol sensor for industrial applications.