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ZonMw Off road grant for Jean-Phillipe Frimat's brain-biopsy-on-a-chip

Friday, 18 August

Jean-Philippe Frimat (postdoc in the microsystem group at TU/eindhoven) has been awarded an Off Road grant (125.000 Euro) by ZonMW for his proposal on developing a Human brain biopsy on a chip.

The purpose of the Off Road grants is to enable young biomedical researchers to achieve breakthroughs by doing out-of-the-box research.

Background: There is an unmet medical and societal need for a fundamental change in the discovery and development process of Anti Epileptic Drugs (AEDs) which is especially prominent in the preclinical process since new AEDs discovery relies heavily on the preclinical models. In this off road project, we will use a new approach to target this unmet need by bringing insights from an adjourning field.

Research aim: We hypothesize that it is possible to develop an in vitro preclinical model that resembles the in vivo neuronal brain activity of pharmacoresistant populations.

Research objective: To test the hypothesis, the off road project has the objective to bring a human brain biopsy, received from Temporal Lobe Resection Surgery in epilepsy patients, in long-term culture utilizing a novel 'micro-bioreactor on-a-chip' technology invented by Schurink and Luttge (2013) and combine it with recent advances in human stem cell technology to provide an enhanced model. This novel technology allows to perform 3D culturing of cells atop of a Micro Electrode Array (MEA). Subsequently, the biopsy specific neuronal activity will be measured by the MEA in vitro and analyzed for resemblance with the in vivo neuronal activity data received from clinical electroencephalography (EEG) prior to the surgery.

Concept figure: A patient derived epileptic biopsy will be cultured inside a microbioreactor and connected to a MEA via a neuron derived stem cell (NPCs) layer. This will enable the recording of epileptic outburst signatures which could be modulated and characterized for drug screening applictions and discovery of new anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).

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