India too moves away from animal testing

Nature published in News in Focus (1 October 2019) that India is one of the latest countries joining a growing wave of nations looking at emerging technologies like organs-on-chip as alternatives for the use of animals in research. The technologies that model human organs and diseases are fast improving and becoming reliable models for testing drug efficacy and toxicity.

India’s national regulator for biomedical research has recommended fast-tracking investment in technologies that can replace animals in biomedical research. Indian scientists welcome the plans but they think the alternatives are not yet sufficient to replace animal models and much works has to be done. Also, the overhaul of the drug-approval process will be a costly one.

Source: Nature, India pushes for animal alternatives in research & hDMT

 

Nominations for the Lush Prize 2020 are open

The Lush Prize offers a global prize fund to support initiatives to end or replace animal testing. The prestigious prize fund of at least £250,000 is available across five categories: Lobbying, Training, Public Awareness, Science, and Young Researchers. A sixth category, known as the ‘Black Box’ prize, also provides the possibility of the entire prize fund being awarded to one applicant for a key breakthrough in human toxicity pathways.

All prize categories are open to organisations or individuals in scientific research, industry, academia, public awareness, lobbying, campaigning, education, training and outreach. Entries can be from anywhere in the world, for projects which have taken place anywhere in the world. You can enter yourself or your own organisation.

The closing date for entry is 6th December 2019.

Further information on all award categories or make a nomination.

Science – rewarding research and development of human-relevant approaches in toxicity testing and research
Training – for education and training initiatives in human-relevant methods which replace animal tests
Young Researcher – awards early-career scientists of up to 35 years of age, for future research proposals which focus on human-based methods
Public Awareness – highlighting the ethical and scientific needs for better, human-based safety testing and alternatives to animal research
Lobbying – influencing key stakeholders by working for regulatory and legislative change to promote better scientific methods for humans and animals.
Black Box – for a key breakthrough in human toxicity pathways research.

Source: Lush Prize & hDMT

Planned novel Open Access journal format

A planned novel Open Access journal format that combines for the first time publishing with funding.

Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018 with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC) by an international consortium of research funders. Plan S requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.

This development requires that – within relatively short time – high impact Plan S compliant Open Access journals become available as alternatives to current subscription based high impact journals.

Towards this goal, a group of European scientists, headed by Stefan Krauss form Oslo and including leading scientists from the European Organ-on-Chip Society (EUROoCS), have joined forces to create a novel experimental Open Access journal format that combines – for the first time – publishing and funding. By combining those two features in one format, the group of scientists hopes to be able to attract potential high impact manuscripts while facilitating and simplifying fund raising. The success of the new format will depend on sponsoring of the funding by research organizations, and on a high scoring editorial board. Ongoing discussions are encouraging.

The journal format is planned to be administrated by a scientist driven non-profit foundation that is responsible for sponsor interface, technology and contingency, while the thematic Open Access journals are planned to be driven by scientific or editorial societies. The specialized journal about Micro Physiological Systems/Organ-on-Chip might become the official journal of EUROoCS.

The flyer shows the details of the planned scheme.

EUROoCS meets ESAO

During the 46th Annual ESAO (European Society for Artificial Organs) Congress on ‘Smartificial Devices for our Future’ in Hannover from 3-7 September 2019 Organ-on-Chip was introduced as a new topic in the field of the European Society for Artificial Organs.

The symposium EUROoCS@ESAO was a joint effort of EUROoCS and ESAO to promote exchange between Organ-on-Chip researchers working at the microscale and those involved in artificial or bioartificial organs at the macroscale of the human organ. The symposium was chaired by Cécile Legallais from CNRS (France), president of ESAO, and Janny van den Eijnden-van Raaij, board member of EUROoCS. After a short introduction about Organ-on-Chip, ORCHID and EUROoCS  five speakers presented their latest research results.

Eric Leclerc (CNRS, Japan) gave a keynote lecture about the development of a liver-pancreas Organ-on-Chip coculture model to simulate the interaction between both organs. Other topics included retina-on-chip (Christopher Probst (Fraunhofer IGB, Germany)), a blood vessel model for genetic vascular diseases (Valeria Orlova, LUMC, the Netherlands) and models that recapitulate the lung alveolar microenvironment (Olivier Guenat, ARTORG, Switzerland). Jari Hyttinen (Tampere University, Finland) addressed the power of combined in vitro and in silico models for future precision medicine.

Altogether it was very useful for both societies to learn from each other and to explore the common interests and possibilities to benefit from their mutual expertise in further research towards a better health for all.

Cécile Legallais and Janny van den Eijnden-van Raaij at the EUROoCS@ESAO symposium.

Dynamic final ORCHID meeting

Horizon 2020 FET-Open project Organ-on-Chip In Development (ORCHID GA #766884) is close to completion.
On 23 September 2019 the achievements of ORCHID and future perspectives were discussed during a dynamic interactive final ORCHID meeting in Leiden, the Netherlands.
35 participants from 14 different countries, including scientists from academia and industry, regulators, policy makers and patient organizations met to discuss the Organ-on-Chip roadmap to further develop and implement the Organ-on-Chip technology in practice. The discussion focused on dissemination of developments in the Organ-on-chip field to the different target groups, and qualification, standardization and valorization of the Organ-on-Chip models. In this context the European Organ-on-Chip Society (EUROoCS), that has been established as one of the outcomes of ORCHID,  will continue community building and increasing awareness, and will initiate and support activities to stimulate adoption of this innovative technology.

Report of First EUROoCS Conference 2019 in Graz

The first conference of the European Organ-on-Chip Society (EUROoCS) in Graz in Austria on the 2nd and 3rd of July this year was a great success. The impressive old campus of the Graz University of Technology, with its nice Lecture Hall and the historic Aula in EUROoCS colors, was filled with 214 enthusiastic participants from 18 different countries, those from the Netherlands and Germany leading in number. The newest results in the Organ-on-Chip field were presented in 6 keynote lectures, 32 abstract selected talks and 96 high quality posters, indicating the growing interest in contributing to this area of research.

Distribution of EUROoCS participants by country (kindly provided by Irene Dalfsen, TU Graz)

Keynotes
Six keynote speakers from academia and industry presented their latest views on different topics, ranging from the development of organoid-based models of the healthy and diseased brain and intestine to the role of Organ-on-Chip in precision medicine, clinical use and drug testing.
Roger Kamm (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA) presented three brain models, that are used to study neurodegenerative diseases, brain cancer and ALS, and to screen new therapeutics. Maxime Mahé (Inserm France and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center USA) introduced a complex human stem cell derived intestine model, including an enteric nervous system, that paves the way for precision and regenerative medicine. Richard Peck (Roche Pharma Switzerland) addressed the potential of Organs-on-Chips to select the best type and dose of drugs per patient, thus contributing to precision medicine and improving R&D success rates.

Roger Kamm, Maxime Mahé and Richard Peck

Anna Herland (KTH/Karolinska Institute Sweden) created a Neuro Vascular Unit-on-Chip and described the use of this system for studies on drug-induced blood-brain barrier alterations and penetration of biopharmaceuticals. Geraldine Hamilton (Emulate USA) focused on the importance of qualification of Organ-on-Chip models for safety assessment using the right reference compounds and presented a glimpse of Organs-on-Chips in space. Stefan Kauschke (Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma Germany) highlighted the chances, challenges and open questions of Organs-on-Chips from the perspective of the pharmaceutical industry end user.

Anna Herland, Geraldine Hamilton and Stefan Kauschke

Something for everyone
During each conference day two parallel sessions were scheduled, that started with a selected talk followed by 8 shorter presentations. Young talents from academia and industry gave inspiring talks about their research in the 4 session topics: Materials, analytics and in-line sensing; Healthy tissue models and safety testing; Integration of immuno-aspects; Disease modelling and efficacy testing.
The posters were exhibited during the whole conference and attracted many scientists, resulting in animated discussions and new collaborations. In fact, this is the aim of the EUROoCS conference: to provide a platform for an interdisciplinary scientific exchange.

Concentration and active discussions during poster session, breaks and dinner.

EUROoCS Awards
During the closing ceremony of the conference a number of young scientists received an award. Travel Awards were offered to promote participation of students and selected from the submitted abstracts by peer-review. The Best Poster Awards were elected by voting of all participants in the conference. The Best Talk Award was chosen by the scientific committee and the session chairs (more awards info).

Become a member of EUROoCS!
Christine Mummery, chair of EUROoCS, informed the audience about the importance and the benefits of the EUROoCS membership. She inspired the participants to become part of an expanding network of experts in the field of Organ-on-Chip. Exclusive access to the digital platform of the EUROoCS website enables members to find information and connect to collaborators via the Forum. Every member can update a profile and expose their research results, projects, jobs and publications at the website. The Organ-on-Chip community is by you and for you!

Christine Mummery welcomes everyone to join EUROoCS.

ORCHID reports about the Organ-on-Chip roadmap
All participants of EUROoCS 2019 received the two brochures from the ORCHID (Organ-on-Chip In Development) project regarding the Organ-on-Chip roadmap. The first report entitled: ‘Organ-on-Chip in Development: Towards a European roadmap for Organ-on-Chip’ outlines the unmet needs, key challenges, barriers and perspectives of the field, and finally proposes recommendations towards the definition of a European roadmap for Organ-on-Chip. In the second report the six building blocks of the Organ-on-Chip roadmap have been described: (1) application, (2) specification, (3) qualification, (4) standardization, (5) production and upscaling, and (6) adoption. EUROoCS will play a facilitating role in the deployment of each block, initiating and catalyzing the dialogue between developers, end users and regulators. Both reports have been published in ALTEX (DOIDOI)

The two ORCHID brochures about the Organ-on-Chip roadmap

EUROoCS conference 2020 in Uppsala
Next year the EUROoCS conference will take place in Uppsala in Sweden early July 2020. Conference chair is Maria Tenje from Uppsala University. Everybody is welcome to join!

EUROoCS 2020 in Uppsla Sweden / Maria Tenje as new conference chair

Many thanks
EUROoCS 2019 was an amazing experience in a very welcoming environment with excellent Styrian wine and good music, perfect for many new friendships, thanks to the fantastic local organization by Torsten Mayr and his crew from TU Graz. It will be a challenge to continue this atmosphere of an incubator of new ideas and initiatives, collaborations and open discussions in the future.

Thanks to Torsten Mayr and his crew from TU Graz.

Photo Impression
You can download the booklet with the program here, and lecture-poster abstracts here (password restricted for meeting participants).
Look here for a photo impression of the symposium.