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 will be highly relevant for the automation of screening tools and development of online readout systems. Also the 3D (bio)printing expertise at TNO could be very useful to develop 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 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 breakthrough technology will be better predictive and time reducing screening platforms, which will improve and shorten the preclinical drug development process. TNO chose to focus on liver-, gut- and lung function-on-a-chip. In all three cases the first step will be to generate relatively simple, cellbased medium throughput in vitro models with relevant readouts, which can as such already be used by industrial partners.

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

Lung function-on-a-chip
TNO aims to develop a portable system that measures the effect of air pollution on human health and helps to identify situations of risk. Our in-house knowledge and expertise on (online) read-out technology will be used to measure physiological parameters, including CO levels as a measurement for viability of (lung)cells.

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Whitepaper
Roadmap

Predictive Health Technologies: better understanding of health and diseases

With increasing life expectancy the costs of healthcare are drastically rising, especially in the last years of life. By better understanding the biology of health and diseases, we can address the effectiveness... Read more

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