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Netherlands set to lead the world in chip-based organ and disease modelling

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Universities and industry join forces to accelerate drugs research and the development of customised treatment for diseases

Dutch universities and industry are combining forces in the newly established hDMT (Institute for Human Organ and Disease Model Technologies). The partners work together intensively on organ-on-chip technology. The chips can significantly accelerate the development of new drugs and treatments for diseases. By sharing knowledge and facilities from various disciplines and organisations in this way, the Netherlands is set to become a key player in the development of organ and disease models on chips as a test system for a range of different applications.

Organ and disease models on chips are micro-devices that contain living human cells from specific organs. They mimic the functions, dynamics and structure of human organs. Ir.. Onno van de Stolpe, CEO at Galapagos: "Organ-on-chip-technology offers amazing promise for the future. Currently, it takes between twelve and fifteen years to develop and market new drugs. Many drugs fail because of a lack of representative testing systems that can accurately predict their effects on the human body. The chips that hDMT will be working on will make a significant contribution to the development process for new drugs, making it more effective, cheaper, faster and more predictable and reducing the use of animal testing. Ultimately, this should enable new and innovative medicines to be developed faster and at lower cost."

Customised treatment

Prof. Christine Mummery, Executive Board Chair at hDMT and Professor of Developmental Biology at Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC): "The use of patient-specific stem cells for the chips enables the genetic characteristics of individual patients to be included in the tests. As a result, medicines can be discovered that prove highly effective for one patient, but actually lead to serious side-effects for another. Ultimately, we aim to achieve customised treatment for every patient."

Heart, cancer and blood vessels

hDMT has been established by nine partners, each with their own expertise: The University of Twente, Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, Hubrecht Institute, University of Leiden, Leiden University Medical Centre, Erasmus Medical Centre, Galapagos and Genmab. It will initially focus on three lines of research: heart, cancer and blood vessels on chips. Prof. Albert van den Berg, Professor of micro/nanofluidics at the University of Twente: "In the near future, we will also focus on neurological diseases, skin and hair models for lifestyle applications, autoimmune diseases and the human micro-biome (micro-organisms in the body)."
Over time, hDMT hopes to welcome even more partners. Dr Janny van den Eijnden-van Raaij, Managing Director at hDMT: "We are already conducting exploratory talks with other businesses and universities. These are expected also to result in further excellent alliances."

Dutch translation

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