Early Research Program: Organ function-on-a-chip

Organ function-on-a-chip models are in vitro models that closely resemble the structural tissue arrangements and functional complexity of living organs by using human (stem)cells cultured on microfluidic chips. TNO will generate, optimize and validate sophisticated generations of human in vitro 'organ function-on-a-chip' models, to satisfy the high but unmet need of the pharmaceutical industry for better predictive preclinical models that represent the human situation.

Organ function-on-a-chip models are in vitro models that closely resemble the structural tissue arrangements and functional complexity of living organs by using human (stem)cells cultured on microfluidic chips.

Better preclinical models that represent the human situation are needed for better prediction of success or failure of compounds in the clinical drug development phase. These predictive models would serve the unmet need of the pharmaceutical industry, and will also find applications in nutrition industry, which increasingly uses pharmaceutical research models for testing efficacy of compounds and ingredients. Organ function-on-a-chip models provide a promising animal-free approach to solve this issue.

Unique knowledge and technologies

TNO has unique knowledge and technologies in house to significantly improve and speed up the model development, validation and application of 'organ function-on-a-chip' technology. These technologies and knowledge include in vitro (cells, tissues), in vivo (humanized animal models, human studies) and in silico (systems biology, PBPK modeling) systems as well as various analytical tools (-omics, accelerator mass spectrometry, imaging) which are highly relevant for the generation, validation and application of organ function-on-a-chip technology. Furthermore, TNO harbors technologies such as microfluidics and optical imaging which are needed for the automation of screening tools and development of online readout systems. Also the 3D (bio)printing expertise at TNO supports the development of more sophisticated chips by printing specific scaffolds or even printing cells in 3D to form a more physiological structured organ model. By combining these technologies we will unlock the full potential of the expertise present at TNO. We aim to collaborate with both the pharmaceutical industry, academia and technology providers to establish an ecosystem that has full potential of developing relevant organ function-on-a-chip systems for various applications.

Breakthrough technology

Our better predictive and time reducing screening platforms, will improve and shorten the preclinical drug development process. TNO chose to focus on liver-, and gut- function-on-a-chip. In both cases the first step will be to generate relatively simple, cell-based in vitro models with relevant readouts, which can as such already be used by industrial partners. In the next step we are going to develop cell systems that represent the human variability on a chip.

Liver function-on-a-chip
TNO aims to develop an in vitro model for multifactorial liver disease (with a focus on NASH) which can be used to study:

  • Human liver disease mechanisms in vitro
  • Nutrient and drug effects on liver function (toxicity and efficacy)

Gut function-on-a-chip
TNO aims to develop an in vitro model of the intestine that mimics the structural, absorptive, transport and pathophysiological properties of the human gut (preferably in combination with its microbiota) in order to study:

  • Intestinal barrier functions (as a marker for gut health)
  • The impact of drugs and nutrition on intestinal barrier functions

Do you want to know more about Organ-on-a-chip

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Whitepaper
Roadmap

Biomedical Health: better understanding of disease and health

Healthcare costs are rising. We can and will do something about it. In the context of the Biomedical Health roadmap, we are developing the tools and expertise needed to help companies, professionals and... Read more
Early Research Programme

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