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€ 4.8 million grant for revolutionary modular and standardized SMART OoC platform

Wednesday, 10 March

NWO has awarded the prestigious Perspectief grant to a multidisciplinary team of 10 researchers affiliated with hDMT. The € 4.8 million grant makes it possible to take the next much needed step in Organ-on-Chip (OoC) technology: a standardized docking plate with microfluidics and electronics where technical and tissue chips are clicked in as needed - together: the SMART OoC. Uniquely, the tissues also contain their microenvironment, enabling modeling of fibrosis. Fibrosis is a common, disruptive disease that is a complicating factor in many organ diseases.

Schematic representation of the SMART OoC, with one tissue chip of skin and hair and two technical chips clicked onto the multiwell docking plate with integrated microfluidics and electronics.

The team of researchers has chosen three prototype organs: gut, joint and skin, where the 3D tissue architecture is improved with scaffolds and connected by blood vessels to the microenvironment. The tissues are grown in chip modules that, like the technical chips, can be clicked into the docking plate. A specific combination of chips can be used for each organ, with the sensors and actuators required for that organ while multiparameter monitoring is integrated. The docking plate builds on the TOP platform developed by researchers at UTwente and has a multiwell format that fits effortlessly into the workflow of academic and private R&D. The modular SMART OoC platform promises to be the game changer for OoC applications because it is standardized and, last but not least, manufacturable and scalable.

The academic team led by Jaap den Toonder of the TU/e is supported by 26 private parties in the development of the SMART OoC, thereby completing the entire chain from development to application. Evita van de Steeg, TNO researcher and representative of the user committee: "As industrial partners, we see this project as a real breakthrough and milestone in the standardization of OoC technology and its applications. It will give an important boost to the development of non-animal models for drug development".

The open platform technology of the SMART OoC guarantees wide application, for example, also in toxicity tests in the cosmetics and food industry and it will therefore undoubtedly be a strong impulse for the Dutch industry. hDMT is proud of this innovative project that has been realized in part thanks to its efforts.

More about the SMART OoC by Jaap den Toonder in this 2 minute video.

Applicants:
Albert van den Berg, Marcel Karperien and Andries van der Meer, Twente University; Hans Bouwmeester, Wageningen University & Research; Erik Danen, Leiden University; Sue Gibbs, Amsterdam UMC/VUmc; Jos Malda, UMC Utrecht; Massimo Mastrangeli, Delft University of Technology; Roman Truckenmüller, Maastricht University; and Jaap den Toonder, Eindhoven University of Technology.

PPP partners:
300MICRONS, Applikon, BioLamina, Convergence, Demcon, dsRAT Stichting Proefdiervrij, Galapagos, Genmab, Hy2Care, IBA Lifesciences, ibidi, Life Science Methods, LipoCoat, Micronit Microtechnologies, OnePlanet Research Center/imec, Poietis, PolyVation, provio, Qurin Diagnostics, ReumaNederland, RIVM, Spektrax, TissUse, TNO, Unilever Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre, Ushio INC.

More about the design and applications of the SMART OoC in this press release.
More about the Perspective research program on the NWO website.

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