Several tests detect pyrogensmicroscopic agents that cause a dangerous fever reactionin medical products and devices. These tests include the rabbit pyrogen tests, which use live rabbits, the bacterial endotoxin test, which uses the blood of horseshoe crabs, and in-vitro tests that use whole human blood cells or cell lines.
A laboratory at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart, Germany, has developed an in-vitro test using human cell lines, which have not yet been validated to replace the rabbit tests, that may be more accurate than the current tests. The test uses cell lines with receptors that initiate the human fever response and change color when the receptor is activated. While the test has proven effective at detecting some kinds of pyrogens so far, it is on its way to detecting thse full range of them. The system should be able to emulate the entire immune system in two to three years time, Stephan Rupp, the project manager, estimates.
Human immune system in a tube. Medical Science News, July 4, 2007.