iCAIR® – translating research into drugs

Our mission

We bridge gaps in anti-infective drug development by providing customized preclinical research and development services in a one-stop-shop concept.

Our services

As an expert preclinical development platform for new anti-infectives, iCAIR® covers the drug development chain from ideas via target identification and hit-to-lead to the non-clinical proof of concept. 

  • iCAIR® offers e.g. academic groups, spin-offs, and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to high-quality R&D services, expertise and infrastructure to bridge the gap between basic research and regulatory development.
  • iCAIR® provides a customized development plan, planning and performance of preclinical studies, and regulatory support in a one-stop-shop concept.
  • iCAIR® enables you to develop your early-stage compounds to the stage of  preclinical proof of concept, ready to go into regulatory development for market approval or out-licensing to industry partners.

Our expertise

  1. iCAIR® focuses on infectious (viral, bacterial and fungal) respiratory diseases.
  2. Our speciality is structure-based, rational drug design and directed drug development. 
  3. Our strengths are predictive, state-of-the-art models.
  4. Our unique approach for drug delivery targeting respiratory diseases is inhaled administration.

iCAIR® focuses on infectious (viral, bacterial and fungal) respiratory diseases

Other pathogens available upon request.


  • Rhinovirus (RV) 
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  • Influenza
  • Parainfluenza
  • SARS-CoV-2 


  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Staphylococcus aureus (incl. MRSA)
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Burkholderia cepacia


  • Aspergillus fumigatus  

Our speciality is structure-based, rational drug design and directed drug development

Drug targets

  •  Target identification 
  • Target validation
  • Structural and functional characterization
  • Glycomics

Hit identification

  • Rational and structure-guided drug design
  • In-vitro compound and fragment screening
  • In-silico compound screening
  • Qualitative and quantitative binding studies

Hit-to-lead and lead optimization

  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Compound derivatization and optimization
  • Chemical synthesis
  • In-vitro efficacy testing

Preclinical development

  • Ex-vivo and in-vivo efficacy testing / proof of concept
  • Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics
  • Regulatory safety and toxicology studies
  • Competence in in-vivo inhalation

Our strengths are predictive, state-of-the-art models

Based on our excellent expertise in inhalation of substances and lung function measurements, our pneumonia models can be applied in particular for testing of inhaled drugs or formulations.

Ex-vivo human airway epithelium model

  • Human airway epithelial cells cultivated at an air-liquid interface 
  • Differentiated epithelium, including ciliated and mucus-secreting cells
  • Can be infected with different pathogens
  • Treatment and exposure from the basal (via medium) or apical (via air) side 

Fresh human ex-vivo lung slices

  • Can be kept viable for up to 14 days
  • Can be infected with different viruses, virus-like particles or bacteria to simulate a human infection ex-vivo
  • Display the human local immune response; responses may be translated to clinical data

Functionally intact, ventilated and perfused organ

  • Provides relevant clearance and transport processes
  • Systemic availability: Analysis of concentration profile in perfusate after inhaled application
  • Lung retention: Tissue concentration or blood-tissue distribution

In-vivo respiratory infection models

Viral mouse infection models

  • reproduce symptoms of mild infection, inflammation and induction of anti-viral response
  • suitable to test efficacy of anti-virals or immune modulators

Acute and chronic bacterial pneumonia models

  • reproduce hallmarks of human pneumonia including clinical symptoms, bacterial distribution and lung inflammation

Our unique approach for drug delivery targeting respiratory diseases is inhaled administration

In-vivo inhalation toxicology

This includes:

Guideline-compliant study performance with state-of-the-art inhalation and measurement equipment allowing studies up to large scale with eight exposure groups in parallel. We offer inhaled administration and toxicity assessment of: 

  • Pharmaceuticals including small molecules, recombinant proteins and non-standard products such as cell and gene therapies or bacteriophages
  • Nanoparticles and novel formulations
  • Toxicity studies after intratracheal instillation
  • Complex project designs for adequate toxicological characterization
  • In-vitro/in-vivo genotoxicity studies with chemicals and complex mixtures

In-vitro testing of airborne substances for inhalation toxicity

This includes:

The innovative and patented P.R.I.T.® technologies enable the use of cell cultures and tissues at the air/liquid interface for testing of inhalable substances under appropriate conditions. Our patented P.R.I.T. ® ExpoCube® features:

  • Standardized in-vitro inhalation of drugs in cell and tissue cultures
  • Optimized exposure efficiency while preserving cellular viability due to CFD (computational fluid dynamics)
  • High particulate deposition efficiency without cell-damaging effect

Further information

How to work with iCAIR®

  • Contract research: commission your preclinical R&D projects to iCAIR®
  • Collaboration: apply for funding by external investors, foundations or public grants together with iCAIR®

Learn more about the iCAIR® partners and their specific expertise

Interested in working with iCAIR®? Contact us!

Armin Braun

Contact Press / Media

Prof. Dr. Armin Braun

iCAIR® coordinator

Phone +49 511 5350-263

Jana Führing

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Jana Führing

iCAIR® site manager, Hannover

Phone +49 511 5350-202