Research and Development (R&D)

At ImmuONE, we lead innovations in in vitro lung models, constantly innovating with state-of-the-art 3D immune-competent models for advanced endpoint analysis. Our in-house research and development initiatives, combined with invaluable collaborations with industry leaders, positions us at the forefront of in vitro inhalation safety testing. Driven by the evolution of new and human-relevant in vitro technologies, we aim to provide human-relevant models and services. This facilitates not only advanced safety evaluations but also next-generation risk assessments.

Organisations now have an unprecedented need to understand the biological significance of inhaled substances. This demand is being met with cutting-edge, physiologically relevant 3D alveolar models. At ImmuONE, we understand the significance of immunocompetent alveolar models and design standardized in vitro representations of the human alveolus. Our offerings don’t just stop at models; we empower decision-makers with valuable mechanistic assays, providing the insights required to make early, well-informed decisions for the development and safety of products and chemicals.

Research initiatives at ImmuONE

Animal-Free, Human-Relevant Research

Understanding the increasing interest in the 3Rs (replacement, reduction, and refinement of animal research methods), ImmuONE prioritises developing animal-free products. Traditionally, cell culture relies on fetal bovine serum (FBS). However, our signature products like ImmuLUNG™ and ImmuPHAGE™ implement an FBS-free approach, utilising chemically defined serum replacement. This results in more standardised and human-relevant outcomes. Our preliminary studies show that our immune cells can be safely cultured in animal product-free medium whilst maintaining equivalent health, morphology and functionality.


As global lung disease challenges intensify, a recurring challenge in inhaled drug development has been the frequent withdrawal of potential modalities. This is primarily due to concerns arising from the emergence of highly vacuolated ‘foamy’ macrophages, indicative of potential safety risks.

Addressing this crucial challenge, our current research initiative is pivoted towards the multiparameter HCIA. Our goal is to pioneer a tool that provides a profound characterisation of alveolar macrophage reactions to drug challenges. Through this approach, we aim to distinctly differentiate the in vitro responses of alveolar macrophages to compounds with contrasting safety profiles. By understanding the precise mechanisms of these responses, we can categorise compounds as safe or unsafe at an earlier phase.


One of our rapidly developing high content imaging projects close to market is lipid_ONE. We use high content image analysis to characterise macrophage health, morphology and lipid profiles within our ImmuPHAGE model to support safety assessment for macrophage responses where lipid accumulation is a feature of concern. For example, we are able to distinguish phenotypes based on intracellular lipid profiles that provide mechanistic-driven insight to safety assessment for a range of adverse responses including phospholipidosis, autophagy and initiating events in other macrophage-driven diseases including atherosclerosis and steatosis.


NC3Rs’ CRACK IT Challenge is a competition that invites innovators to solve scientific and business challenges that support the 3Rs. Following successful completion of the phase 1 challenge awarded to ImmuONE™ by the NC3Rs, we were announced as the winners for the phase 2 challenge in January 2022. Sponsored by Unilever and AstraZeneca, the project aims to establish and develop in vitro OECD test guidelines. These assays will be free from animal-derived products and demonstrate their equivalence and improved human relevance to current strategies. Once optimised, these technologies will be progressed to commercially ready, human-relevant, animal-free bioassays with the view to gaining regulatory acceptance.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) model development

IPF is a progressive lung disease that causes scarring and an irreversible decline in lung function. Despite huge investments each year to develop new treatments for IPF, few medicines have made it to market due to inadequate support by pre-clinical assessments. ImmuONE is addressing this with a novel 3D in vitro cell platform, which emulates the human alveolus’s inflammatory processes during IPF. Preliminary data preformed in the area has shown human alveolar applicability along with cell longevity. We are in the early stages of development for our innovative cell platform and are looking for a partner to help us with efficacy testing.

Development of a shipping system to preserve ImmuONE products

Understanding the sensitivities of immune cell cultures, we’re committed to perfecting shipping conditions, ensuring cell health remains uncompromised. We’re evolving a shipping platform to deliver our models as off-the-shelf products to clients, emphasising product quality during transit.


ImmuLUNG™, ImmuONE’s hallmark lung model, underwent a collaborative study with FinnAdvance, evaluating its compatibility within systemic and dynamic platforms. With encouraging results on both platforms, ImmuLUNG™ showcases immense potential for the growing Lung-on-a-Chip sector. Detailed findings were presented at the MPS World Summit 2023. Please contact our team for the complete poster presentation.

Selected publications

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