Visiting hDMT International Organ-on-Chip Symposium 2017
A true story (by Evita van de Steeg, TNO)
While enjoying the hDMT co-organized International Organ-on-Chip Symposium 2017 in Lausanne a few weeks ago, I realized that these are exciting times in the organ-on-chip research scene. With many promising new technologies being developed and combined with state of the art biology, and promises for patients picked up and spread by the media, we have created a landscape of expectations that need to be fulfilled in the coming years. I once heard somebody explaining the Gartner Hype Cycle, which provides a theory about the interpretation of new technology hypes. The theory distinguishes several phases, and with the organ-on-chip technology we are definitely beyond the ‘innovation trigger’, in which a potential technology kicks off, and we are heading in a steep curve towards the ‘peak of inflated expectations’. This sounds very discouraging, but it is a natural phase of launching new technologies in which early success stories are published (along with some stories of failure), and in which some companies take action while others await further approval. And I believe this is exactly where we are standing with our organ-on-chip technology. The challenge will be to move as quickly as possible through this phase towards the ‘plateau of productivity’, in which the technology is being applied, implemented and paying off.
Together we can make a difference!
While talking to many different scientists from all over the world at the conference in Lausanne, I felt proud to be Dutch and to be well-organized nationally within hDMT, forming a national collective in the fast developing arena of science. I really believe that together we can make a difference! There is still a gap to bridge between the technologists and biologists (although we are making some progress here), but most importantly: we definitely need to get end users on board. Together with end users from the pharmaceutical, food and chemical industry we can develop initial killer applications, that will also be accepted by legal agencies like FDA and EMA. With the nationally assigned ‘Gravity’ budget we can make a first step towards further developing the biology and technology for acceptation and implementation of organ on-a-chip concepts. We also know that in the near future new opportunities for grants will arise (TTW, H2020), for which we absolutely need to apply to ascertain validation, implementation and acceptation of general organ-on-chip technologies. This will only succeed if we collaborate and connect to the end users. My colleagues at TNO and myself, we look forward to being part of these research opportunities. So in conclusion: exciting times!