MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine
The MERLN Institute is a research institute of Maastricht University Medical Center + In 2014 MUMC+, with massive financial support of the Province of Limburg has invested in the so-called LINK (Limburg Invests in its Knowledge Economy) project, setting up two major research institutes M4I and MERLN. In particular MERLN, with its focus on technologies for regenerative medicine can be seen as flagship in organ-on-chip technologies at MUMC+. Indeed, organ-on-chip, disease-on-chip and even regeneration-on-chip are research lines that perfectly fit in the strategy MERLN has developed for its research for the next decade.
- Unique 3D platform technologies (bottom-up) and clean room fabrication facilities embedded in an excellent clinical environment
- Therapy- and regeneration-on-chip strategies including inserts from ‘true’ biomaterials (such as for stents, dental implants, etc.) (Harink et al., Lab Chip, 13, 3512, 2013)
- 3D microformed membranes to model human endo-/epithelial barriers (blood-brain)
- Screening platforms of large biomaterial libraries on chip
- Organotypic cell culture in high-throughput on industry compatible formats
- Sharing complementary expertise, e.g. biomaterials, 3D micro- and nanofabrication and
- regenerative medicine
- Access to top-notch molecular imaging facilities
- Student exchange, organizing summer schools, training weeks
- Access to our (international) network and to the activities MUMC+ is involved, especially in the Euregion
Added value for MUMC+
- New collaborations
- Sharing pool of equipment and expertise
- Student exchange, interdisciplinary training of students
- Building and setting up consortia for national and international grant proposals
- Access to technologies that are not available at MUMC+
Expertises and facilities
- Biomaterials development, on-chip synthesis, and analysis (organics and inorganics)
- Micro- and nanofabrication and fluidics with/in biomaterials
- Clean room for micro-/nanolithography and proprietary micro- and nanoscale 3D polymer film forming and functionalization
- Biofabrication center: additive manufacturing (3D (bio)printing, electrospinning, etc.)
- Microfluidic bioreactor technologies
- On-chip (3D) cell culture and analysis, 3D in vitro models (vasculature, kidney, lung)
- Preclinical (disease) models
- High-throughput/-content imaging and (big) data analysis/mining
- Bioinformatics, computational modelling
- Mass spectrometry imaging and (cryo) electron microscopy
- Access to patient material
- Bottom-up engineering of complex miniaturized tissues
- Maastricht stem cell bank initiative MSCB
Relevant (inter)national collaborations, in public and private sector
- McGill University, Birmingham University, Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research Mainz, KIT, University of Cambridge, EPFL, Heidelberg University, Broad Institute, Wyss/MIT among others
- DSM, Sabic, Medtronic, Cam Bioceramics, among others
- Spin-offs: Materiomics, 300MICRONS, Xeltis, Xpand Biotechnology, CellCoTec
- Harink, B., Le Gac, S., Barata, D., van Blitterswijk, C. and Habibovic, P., Microfluidic platform with four orthogonal and overlapping gradients for soluble compound screening in regenerative medicine research. Electrophoresis, 2015, 36: 475–484.
- Neuzil P, Giselbrecht S, Länge K, Huang TJ, Manz A: Revisiting lab-on-a-chip technology for drug discovery. Nat Rev Drug Discov 2012, 11(8):620-632.
- Hebeiss I, Truckenmüller R, Giselbrecht S, Schepers U: Novel three-dimensional Boyden chamber system for studying transendothelial transport. Lab Chip 2012, 12(4):829-834.
- Harink, B., et al. (2013). Regeneration-on-a-chip? The perspectives on use of microfluidics in regenerative medicine. Lab on a Chip 13(18): 3512-3528.
- Barata, D., et al. (2016). High-throughput screening approaches and combinatorial development of biomaterials using microfluidics. Acta Biomater 34: 1-20.
- ERC Advanced Grant: ‘Orchestrate – Building complex life through self-organization: from organ to organism’ (694801, ERC-2015-AdG), 2016 – 2020
- Longfonds: ‘Microengineered 3D analogues of alveolar tissue for lung regeneration’, 01/09/14–28/02/19
- STW Innovational Research Incentives Scheme – Veni project: ‘Trace elements releasing bone graft substitutes: a comprehensive alternative to autograft’, 01/04/09–31/07/12