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Help wanted for the 4th TPI-Helpathon – animal-free liver, lung and brain models

Wednesday, 21 October

Your help is highly needed and appreciated in the next TPI-Helpathon #4 on November 2-3, 2020. The organizers are looking for people from all different disciplines - from basic research to regulatory till implementation.

Helpathon #4 is called by three researchers at the Biomedical Primate Research Center, Rijswijk, the Netherlands. Anne-Marie Zeeman, Raissa Timmerman and Frank Verreck have three really good in vitro modelling questions to progress their research on liver, lung and brain diseases.

The Helpathon team is looking for people committed to fighting P. vivax malaria, neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and tuberculosis. And especially researchers involved in:

  • the development of human in vitro lung models and infection models;
  • studying the aging process and developing in vitro models of the brain and the immune system;
  • handling big data and computational modelling;
  • the development of human in vitro liver models and infection models.

Read more about their research questions and register (via the link)

Anne-Marie studies relapsing malaria (P. vivax type malaria). She successfully developed a single cell layer in vitro model to study compounds affecting dormant and active malaria parasites of rhesus monkeys. Active compounds need to be validated by in vivo testing, while these types of experiments may be largely avoided if a good 3D model is available.

Can you help Anne-Marie develop a more organ-like rhesus 3D liver model in which she can study the dormancy and the waking up of malaria parasites?

Raissa studies aging, which is the biggest risk factor to develop neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer. Studying aging in rhesus macaques is very time-consuming. Raissa is now using immune cells (microglia) from rhesus macaque brains in a simple monolayer cell culture model.

Can you help Raissa find a more complex organoid-like brain and immune model based on rhesus microglia to study aging in relation to neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases?

Frank does research on tuberculosis at the Biomedical Primate Research Center (BPRC). Tuberculosis is the most deadly infectious disease worldwide! For the past hundred years, BCG (Bacillus Calmette Guérin) vaccinations take place through the skin. Research shows that macaques can be better protected from this infection by vaccination through their lungs. Frank really wants to further study the potential of this alternative vaccination strategy. He wants to understand how this BCG vaccination works in macaques lungs.

Can you help Frank with integrating an immune system into a macaque lung organoid to address local immunity to tuberculosis with his vaccination strategy?

Brief and debrief times (Amsterdam time, UTC + 2)*
Monday, November 2nd

13h00-17h00 : check in Online Helpathon House
- kick off presentations & clarification three questions
- open space sessions
17h00-19h00 : break / real life team dinner
19h00-21h00 : visualizing new ways

Tuesday, November 3rd
09h00-14h00 : kick off consolidating solutions and preparing for presentations
14h00-15h00 : final presentation time

What is a TPI-Helpathon?
Working on related questions in parallel increases the likelihood that meaningful coincidences and surprise discoveries will occur. Such 'lucky finds' often turn out to be pivotal moments during a Helpathon, and the insights reaped from them play a key role in the outcome. In this Helpathon we work in parallel on three questions.

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