TissueGrinder – Single cells – Building blocks for personalized medicine

Personalized medicine is a key technology of our century.This technology utilizes approaches including single-cell analysis, e.g. next generation sequencing. Although the process steps involved are very different, most technologies start with a common starting material: individual cells (single cells).


Every person is different - and so is every patient. Age, gender, physical constitution or environmental influences have an impact on the development and course of diseases, but also genetic, molecular and cellular characteristics of each individual patient. This is because a person's genetic constitution is as individual as his or her fingerprintNot surprisingly, two people with the same diagnosis are rarely expected to develop identical courses of disease or respond identically to the same medication. Modern molecular diagnostics enable us to tailor medicine more and more to the individual, to personalize it.. Personalized medicine has the potential to make therapies significantly more effective, to spare patients unnecessary treatment and suffering, and ultimately to reduce the burden on the healthcare system.

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From tissue to single cell

Clinical tissue samples are characterized by a heterogeneous spectrum of their structural properties. The majority of tissue dissociation is still performed manually by scalpel and cell sieves. In addition to predominantly manual dissociation, there are three alternative methods: enzymatic, chemical, and mechanical tissue dissociation. For molecular analyses, the mechanical approach is the preferred method. Treatment with chemical or enzymatic reagents is disadvantageous because they tend to attack the protein markers and structures needed for labeling/staining and molecular analysis.


In addition, clinical tissue samples used to obtain primary cells are often only available in small quantities. Due to the high demand for primary cells for applications in 3D cell culture, high-throughput drug screens, cell printing, and organ-on-chip technologies, primary cells should be obtained as efficiently as possible.

Optimized dissociation

The TissueGrinder technology developed by Fraunhofer IPA (Mannheim) enables standardized sample preparation and subsequent filtration in a closed sterile system, based on standard laboratory ware. The TissueGrinder combines intelligent control algorithms with mechanical dissociation to provide high-quality single-cell suspensions from fresh, frozen or FFPE tissue samples for a variety of applications. The TissueGrinder's core technology is optimized for an ideal combination of shear and cutting force, resulting in highly viable cells for subsequent molecular analysis or cultivation.


The TissueGrinder technology was developed as part of Fraunhofer's internal research project "Mavo Lydia HD", with the aim of creating a high-throughput system for tissue-based personalized cancer therapy.


The potential of single cells

The cell is the basic unit of our body – and key to understanding the biology of good health, as well as how molecular dysfunction leads to disease.


Pressemitteilung / 30.9.2020

The TissueGrinder (German)

With the help of the TissueGrinder – an automatized miniature grinder for sensitive tissue – living cells can be dissolved from a tissue sample. The TissueGrinder technology was developed by Fraunhofer IPA (Mannheim).

A spin-off is now bringing the product ready for series production to the market and therefore establishes an important premise for personalized medicine in the future. 



Publication in "Current Directions in Biomedical Engineering"

A step towards enzyme-free tissue dissociation


Article: "Laboratory practice" (German)

Personalized medicine – Digitalized sample processing for single-cell analysis


Poster MAVO LyDia HD (German)

In the project: "LyDia HD" the complete process of a lymph node diagnosis is realized, from tissue processing and colour proofing to the detecation of tumor cells.