White paper: Emerging Medical Domains for the ECS industry now available

The Health.E lighthouse recently published a White Paper on the emerging medical domains for the electronics components and systems industry and the many opportunities that lie ahead.

Health care is changing. It is becoming more and more decentralized and personalized, and there will be an increased emphasis on prevention. These changing are triggering the development of new medical devices and solutions that are emerging at the fading borders between the Electronics, MedTech and Pharmaceutical industries.

To create awareness of the opportunities these emerging medical domains offer from a perspective of the electronics industry, the Health.E lighthouse has published a white paper in which thirteen emerging domains ranging from Organ-on-Chip to surgical robots have been identified. The topics are presented in accessible format, addressing the economic and societal relevance with suggestions for further reading.

The Health.E White paper on “Emerging Medical Domains for the ECS industry” can be downloaded here (pdf).

The Health.E lighthouse is an initiative of the ECSEL joint undertaking funding platform. Its mission is to accelerate innovation in medical devices by promoting the adoption of open technology platforms.

Visit the Health.E website to learn more about the mission and the vision of the lighthouse and follow them on LinkedIn.

NWA-ORC grant for Organ-on-Chip models with integrated lymphatics

A 5 million Euro NWA-ORC grant was awarded to hDMT researchers to develop immunocompetent human Organ-on-Chip models with integrated lymph drainage for drug discovery and testing (LymphChip). The project is led by Valeria Orlova (coordinator) from Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Christine Mummery (LUMC) and Sue Gibbs (VUMC).

The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in our immune system, for example by regulating the immune response to pathogens. Lymphatic dysfunction underlies many diseases and could determine the effectiveness of therapies, whether drug or stem-cell based.

Yet, in the new generation of in-vitro organ models used to study the effect of drugs and therapies, the lymphatic system and the immune cells they transport are notably absent.

Members of this consortium are already studying the effects of drugs and mechanisms of disease on miniature tissue models of heart, skin and gut but will now develop lymphatic and immune systems from stem cells for each of these since they are essential for maintaining tissue health and can cause disease when they go wrong.

The consortium is formed by hDMT researchers and it is envisaged that Organ-on-Chip models with integrated lymphatics they develop, will provide a precision tool in the battle against immune-related diseases.

The LymphChip consortium will receive a total of almost 5 million Euros from the Dutch Research Agenda Research on Routes by Consortia (NWA-ORC) for this purpose. With the contribution from the patient organizations, foundations and companies the total amount comes to 5.6 million Euro.

Envisioned solution

In LymphChip, pioneers of the Organ-on-Chip platform join forces to develop these types of model for the first time. Starting from proven stem cell-derived and primary tissue models of three organ systems (heart, intestine, and skin), they will develop innovative combinations of microengineered biomimetic 3D scaffolds, miniaturized interstitial flow models and on-line sensing, integrating primary and stem cell-derived tissues and corresponding tissue lymphatics. We will thus create powerful models for studying tissue homeostasis via fluid transport (for the heart), small molecule and dietary fat transport (intestine) and immune surveillance (for skin and lymph nodes).

This will provide unprecedented opportunities for studying human disease in which the lymphatic system is defective by providing personalized, patient-specific immune systems in near-native tissue environments with stromal and immune cell components and real-time measures of function.

Our ambition is to provide game-changing technology to address presently intractable conditions of the immune system using three tissues as exemplars that will lead the way towards the identification of novel pathways for these and other organs while reducing animal use.

The LymphChip consortium

The project is led by hDMT PI Dr. Valeria Orlova (coordinator) from Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Prof. Christine Mummery (LUMC) and Prof. Sue Gibbs (VUMC). Other hDMT consortium partners include Dr. Hans Bouwmeester (WU), Prof. Reina Mebius (VUMC), Dr. Andries van der Meer (UTwente), Dr. Massimo Mastrangeli (TU Delft), Prof. Roman Truckenmüller (UM/MERLN), Dr. Coen Govers (WR) and Dr. Anne Leferink (UT).

Other consortium partners include IBA Lifesciences GmbH, TissUse GmbH, Nederlandse Brandwonden Stichting, Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testing, BioEC, Cealus health, IMEC (One Planet), PolyVation, Alveolé, Optics11, hDMT, Ibidi GmbH, AIM Biotech, VSParticle, Amsterdam University Medical Center, Red Cross Hospital Beverwijk, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Maag Lever Darm Stichting, The University of Melbourne, Ncardia, Roche, Danone Nutricia Research.

Source: NWO, LUMC

NWA-ORC grant for Virtual Human Platform for Safety Assessment

In the second round of the Dutch Research Agenda Program: Research along routes by Consortia (NWA-ORC) the project Virtual Human Platform for Safety Assessment receives a grant of 9.9 million euros for assessing the safety of chemicals and pharmaceuticals without using laboratory animals. hDMT is closely involved in the project, as are hDMT partners: WUR, Amsterdam UMC, TNO and Leiden University.

Imagine a world in which we can accurately test the safety of chemicals and pharmaceuticals for our health without the use of laboratory animals. Imagine that we know how these substances interact with human biology and physiology and how they can be used safely at home, school or at work during the course of our lives. This is the vision of the future behind the NWA-ORC project ‘Virtual Human Platform for safety assessment’ (VHP), led by Juliette Legler, Professor of Toxicology at Utrecht University, Cyrille Krul (HU) and Anne Kienhuis (RIVM).

The consortium will receive 9.9 million Euros from the Dutch Research Agenda: Research on Routes by Consortia (NWA-ORC) for this purpose. Thanks to the contribution of foundations, government and private sector organisations, the total funding comes to 11.2 million Euros.


From left to right: Cyrille Krul (HU), Juliette Legler (Utrecht University) and Anne Kienhuis (RIVM).

Limited predictive value

We use half a million animals annually in the Netherlands, 100 million worldwide’, Legler explains. ‘Thirty per cent of this is for legally required toxicological and safety tests. And we are going to use more and more animals for testing, taking into account vaccine development, cell and gene therapy. The problem with using animals is their limited ability to predict effects on human health. Scenarios relevant for human health cannot always be replicated in animal experiments. Moreover, the use of animal testing is less and less accepted by society.’

According to Legler, the current system of assessing the safety of chemicals and pharmaceuticals based on animal testing is outdated. ‘It is slow and leaves little room for innovation. Developments in biotechnology are proceeding very rapidly, and our current system of safety assessment is unnecessarily slowing us down if we don’t keep up with the innovations. The Dutch House of Representatives recently debated the use of animal testing and the transition to animal-free innovations. Our project is at the heart of society. It shows that the transition to innovative and societally relevant science and policy is possible without animal testing.’

Acceleration

Legler says: ‘Through co-creation with stakeholders, we will develop the world’s first Virtual Human Platform to determine the safety of chemicals and pharmaceuticals for human health based solely on human biology. By integrating innovations in data science, human tissue culture models and transition management, we will accelerate the transition to animal-free safety assessment. I am incredibly proud of that.’

Project consortium

Universiteit Utrecht, Hogeschool Utrecht, RIVM, Universiteit Maastricht, Universiteit Leiden, Wageningen Universiteit, Wageningen Food Safety Research, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, VU Medisch Centrum, TNO, Erasmus Medisch Centrum, Utrecht Medisch Centrum, ORTEC, Certara U.K., Charles River Laboratories, Unilever, Shell, Bayer, Galapagos, Cosmetics Europe, KWR, Ministerie LNV, Stichting Proefdiervrij, VIG, Brandwondenstichting, Nierstichting, College beoordeling geneesmiddelen, hDMT, SURFsara, DTL, US-EPA, iVPH, Uppsala Universiteit

Source: NWO, UU

‘Mini Organs-on-Chips: Towards new research models for studying disease and finding treatments’.

The Dutch Foundation ‘Biosciences and Society’ has launched the booklet entitled ‘Mini Organs-on-Chips: Towards new research models for studying disease and finding treatments’.

This publication in the series of so-called ‘Cahiers’ explains to a large audience, in an easy-to-understand language, what these promising Organs-on-Chips are, and what they can do and cannot (yet) do for health, and wellbeing of society and economy.
A state-of-the-art overview is given of what can be expected from this technology, now and in the future. Examples illustrating the potential to improve and accelerate drug development, to enable personalized treatment and to reduce the number of animal experiments are included.

The booklet can be downloaded (free download) in pdf or ordered as hard-copy (€7,50).
The booklet is an initiative of the Institute for human Organ and Disease Model Technologies (hDMT) and contains contributions from many of the top research groups in the Organ-on-Chip field in the Netherlands.

Abstract
Despite decades of research, there are still no drugs for many diseases. And the drugs that are available may only be effective in some patients or cause unwanted side-effects. Organ-on-Chip technology with human cells is a promising approach to address these problems. The models contain living human cells from specific organs that simulate the function, dynamics and structure of human organs in sickness and in health. Organ-on-Chip models could not only improve but also accelerate the drug development process and reduce its costs. In addition, this technology contributes to reducing the use of laboratory animals.

About the authors and editors
The booklet Mini Organs-on-Chips was composed by Janny van den Eijnden-van Raaij (managing director hDMT & secretary/treasurer EUROoCS), Berend van Meer (researcher LUMC and business developer Organ-on-Chip Center Twente, UTwente), Christine Mummery (Professor of Developmental Biology, Dept. of Anatomy & Embryology, LUMC & Chair EUROoCS) and Astrid van de Graaf (editor-in-chief and freelance science journalist).

Call for partners Cost Action ‘Advanced Microfluidics Initiative’

Prof. Dr. Peter Ertl from TU Wien (Austria) is looking for partners to build a COST consortium in the field of microfluidics, called Advanced Microfluidics Initiative (AMI). Interested? Please contact the proposal coordinators as soon as possible!

COST action: Advanced Microfluidics Initiative (AMI)

Proposal coordinators:
Dr. Helene Zirath (Technische Universität Wien-TUW)
Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Ertl (Technische Universität Wien-TUW)

Project idea:
The ADVANCED MICROFLUIDICS INITIATIVE (AMI) sets out to give the diagnostics community more weight at the international level and gain competitive visibility at the European level by means of superregional cooperation. Another essential aspect of the initiative is continuous education and training of the next generation of researchers, analytical chemists, biomedical engineers and bioengineers for the microfluidic job market. AMI intends to bundle complementary expertise ranging from microfluidics, biosensing and diagnostic assays optimization to offer the European research and development landscape a communication/ networking platform that (a) fosters exchange of ideas between academic, industry and regulatory stakeholders, (b) enables network building for young scientists, (c) encourages industrial to academic partnerships, and (d) provides training and continuous education opportunities for next generation of skilled workers. The added value of our COST-AMI initiative is the synergetic use of existing European infrastructures, expertise and technologies that covers the entire value chain from idea to design and via rapid prototyping from functional prototype to scale-up production. We strongly believe that only by engaging in direct technological exchange and collaborations, rapid implementation and translation of projects is possible in half the time and with significantly reduced costs. In other words, new ideas and diagnostic concepts in medical/clinical, food, life style and environmental testing can be quickly realized by academic partners to demonstrate feasibility and translated by industrial partners into commercial applications. This means that AMI will actively contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development GOAL #3 (Good health and well-being) and GOAL #6 (Clean water and sanitation). More importantly, the COST AMI platform will increase the readiness level of the European academic and industrial key players to respond to future pandemic outbreaks. Additionally, AMI initiative focuses on intensifying cooperation with diagnostic start-ups to aid in the development marketable products under GMP and ISO certification on an industrial scale.

We are looking for partners to complete the AMI consortium for the following activities needed to go from idea via rapid prototyping to functional prototype and pilot system to production and product.

Working Group WG1: Materials & (bio)interfaces
Topics of this working group involves the application of novel functional and multi-functional materials as well as smart materials. The aim of WG1 is the evaluation of material properties needed for POC devices and establishment reliable and robust functionalization strategies.

WG2: Bioassay miniaturization & biosensor integration
Topics of this working group involves the evaluation and optimization of biosensor performance and system periphery as well as bioassay miniaturization. The goal of this working group is the integration of single-and multi-cell cultures and the establishment of functional readouts of optical, electrical and magnet biosensors.

WG3: Rapid Prototyping & manufacturing technologies
Topics of this WG includes the combination and harmonization of device fabrication technologies. This includes CAD, device simulation, and the generation of guidelines from prototyping to scale-up production. The goal of this WG is the establishment of on-chip proof-of-concept studies and the assessment of feasibility of the developed biomaterials and integrated bioassays for industrial mass production.

WG4: Regulatory aspects & data security/IT
Topics of this working group includes the incorporation of regulatory guidelines as well as the standardization according to national, international and institutional regulations (GMP, ISO certification). Further, the WG takes care of the key aspects in data assessment, accessibility and security of generated knowledge. The goal of this WG involves state-of-the-art data acquisition, storage and documentation (Telemedicine) as well the analysis of the diagnostic device and POC market.

About COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) in short:
Main objective: COST Actions help connect research initiatives across Europe and beyond and enable researchers and innovators to grow their ideas in any science and technology field by sharing them with their peers. COST Actions are bottom-up networks with a duration of four years that boost research, innovation and careers.

Duration: 4 years
Deadline: November 13th, 2020
Web link: www.cost.eu

Why should you join such a project?
• The project is a perfect opportunity to connect Europe wide and share knowledge on top scientific level
• Find partners for further collaborations and publications
• Enable short term scientific missions for your Early Stage Researchers

Contact:

Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Peter Ertl, peter.ertl@tuwien.ac.at
Dr.techn. Helene Zirath, MSc., helene.zirath@tuwien.ac.at
Nikolaus Ladenhauf, nikolaus.ladenhauf@bnn.at

 

Special issue Call for Papers: Organ-on-Chip and microphysiological systems

To highlight the new alliance with EUROoCS, Stem Cell Reports is seeking manuscripts on innovative studies incorporating stem cells or their derivatives into Organ-on-Chip and microphysiological systems for publication in an upcoming special issue of the journal.

Topics include applications for functional genomics and disease modeling, and basic studies of cell interactions in tissue microenvironments during development or adult life, including the assessment of the influence of the physical environment on cell behavior.

Submission
To inquire about the suitability of a potential submission, please email stemcellreports@isscr.org.

Authors who have never submitted a paper to Stem Cell Reports (SCR) need to register on the SCR website and follow the standard submission process. Please mention your interest in this special issue in the cover letter. All manuscripts will go through the standard peer review process and will be evaluated on the journal’s standard criteria for novelty and impact. The final decision about acceptance will be taken by the guest editors:

Guest editors

Benefit for EUROoCS members
EUROoCS members benefit from a discount for publication of their manuscript in Stem Cell Reports. They will be charged the ISSCR-member rate of $3300 (the non-member rate is $3800).
Sign up to become a member.

Stem Cell Reports is the ISSCR’s peer-reviewed, open-access, online journal communicating fundamental discoveries in stem cell research, translational and clinical studies since 2013. Specifically, Stem Cell Reports is interested in publishing innovative studies incorporating stem cells or their derivatives into Organ-on-Chip and microphysiological systems for applications to functional genomics and disease modeling, or to basic studies of cell interactions in tissue microenvironments during development or adult life, including the assessment of the influence of the physical environment on cell behavior. Studies focused mainly on engineering of Organ-on-Chip and microphysiological systems, or those reporting the outcomes of pharmacological or toxicological screens, are outside of the journal’s scope (except where the endpoint of such screens relates to stem cell growth or differentiation). For more information, please visit the Stem Cell Reports website and the Aims and Scope.

Review ‘Organs-on-Chips: into the next decade’ published

A few years after the international Keystone Symposium in April 2018 in Big Sky, Montana, USA co-organized by Christine Mummery (EUROoCS Chair), a review is published that provides a snapshot of the fast-evolving Organ-on-Chips technology, discusses current applications and caveats for their implementation, and offers suggestions for directions in the next decade.

Abstract: Organs-on-chips (OoCs), also known as microphysiological systems or ’tissue chips’ (the terms are synonymous), have attracted substantial interest in recent years owing to their potential to be informative at multiple stages of the drug discovery and development process. These innovative devices could provide insights into normal human organ function and disease pathophysiology, as well as more accurately predict the safety and efficacy of investigational drugs in humans. Therefore, they are likely to become useful additions to traditional preclinical cell culture methods and in vivo animal studies in the near term, and in some cases replacements for them in the longer term.

In the past decade, the OoC field has seen dramatic advances in the sophistication of biology and engineering, in the demonstration of physiological relevance and in the range of applications. These advances have also revealed new challenges and opportunities, and expertise from multiple biomedical and engineering fields will be needed to fully realize the promise of OoCs for fundamental and translational applications.

Ref: Low, L.A., Mummery, C., Berridge, B.R. et al. Organs-on-chips: into the next decade. Nat Rev Drug Discov (2020), Doi 10.1038/s41573-020-0079-3

Stem Cell Reports “home” journal for EUROoCS

 

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and the European Organ-on-Chip Society (EUROoCS) are pleased to announce an agreement that will have Stem Cell Reports, the ISSCR’s online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal, serve as the “home” journal for EUROoCS member publications that focus on the use and application of stem cells. This alliance will help bridge the bioengineering and stem cell communities to enhance the development of technologies, the sharing and application of discovery and ultimately lead to a better understanding of human health and the treatment of disease.

“Stem Cell Reports is excited to partner with EUROoCS to provide a first-class venue for outstanding studies that use stem cells or their derivatives in Organ-on-Chip and microphysiological systems. This is an exciting emerging area of interdisciplinary research that is building the next generation of powerful stem cell modeling tools for the study of human development, physiology and disease.” Martin Pera, Editor-in-Chief, Stem Cell Reports

“EUROoCS is delighted to have Stem Cell Reports as “home” for papers from its members using Organ-on-Chip and Microphysiological systems to create more predictive models of human tissue based on stem cells. These bioengineered models capture organ physiology beyond the state-of-the art by mimicking complex multi-cell type structures in a microphysiological environment that includes vascular-like perfusion and tissue biomechanics. Partnering with the ISSCR’s premier stem cell journal Stem Cell Reports will provide new perspectives for both EUROoCs and ISSCR members as well as a broader readership to advance understanding of human health and disease.” the EUROoCS Board

Moore4Medical kicks off to bring open technology platforms in organs-on-chip

Last June, 2020 the ECSEL Joint Undertaking Moore4Medical kicked off with the overarching objective to accelerate innovation in electronic medical devices.

Led by Philips and masterminded by prof. Ronald Dekker (Philips Research, and ECTM group TU Delft), Moore4Medical (https://moore4medical.eu/) will run for three years and will address emerging medical applications and technologies that offer significant new opportunities for the Electronic Systems & Components (ECS) industry. These include: bioelectronic medicines, organs-on-chip, drug adherence monitoring, smart ultrasound, radiation-free interventions and continuous monitoring. The new technologies will help fighting the increasing cost of healthcare by reducing the need for hospitalisation, helping to develop personalized therapies, and realising intelligent point-of-care diagnostic tools.

Moore4Medical brings together 66 selected companies, universities and institutes from 12 European countries who will develop open technology platforms for those emerging fields to help them bridge “the Valley of Death” in shorter time and at lower cost. An essential concept at the core of Moore4Medical, open technology platforms used by multiple users for multiple applications with the prospect of medium-to-high volume markets represent an attractive proposition for the European ECS industry. The combination of typical MedTech and Pharma applications with an ECS style platform approach is at the heart of the vision and mission of the Health.E lighthouse (https://www.health-lighthouse.eu/). Open technology platforms will enhance the competitiveness for the emerging medical domains. With value and IP moving from the technology level towards applications and solutions, defragmentation and open technology platforms will be key in acquiring and maintaining a premier position for Europe at the forefront of affordable healthcare.

Within Moore4Medical, the second workpackage is dedicated to the development of open technology platforms for organs-on-chip. Led by Dr. Massimo “Max” Mastrangeli (ECTM, TU Delft), the organs-on-chip workpackage involves 25 partners (see also full list at the bottom) and aims at the development of three advanced platforms:

1) an autonomous smart multi-well plate, which will have the familiar shape of a standard titer plate, and will contain micropumps and microfluidic infrastructures to provide perfusion and electronics to drive the micropumps, integrated readout sensors and wireless data transfer;
2) a high-definition electrophysiology multi-well plate to bridge the gap between advanced high electrode count integrated circuits and the world of biology and pharma by means of advanced microfluidic fan-out technologies integrated into the well plate;
3) a non-disposable smart multi-well lid, useable in combination with standard plates as well as the smart multi-well plates, which will contain micropumps and sensors that monitor in situ and in a parallel fashion monitor the medium of cell cultures in incubators.

The proposed platforms will be validated in a realistic setting with relevant cell cultures. The universal and fit-for-purpose nature of the smart multi-well plate will be demonstrated with three different organ-on-chip devices from three different manufacturers. In an additional innovation track, novel sensors and organ-on-chip devices will be developed to ensure continuous innovation by bringing advanced sensing and complex organ and disease models to future smart multi-well plates. Furthermore, the DEPArrayTM technology by Menarini Silicon Biosystems for the isolation of 100% pure single live cells from heterogeneous samples will be improved by a dedicated sensing platform for the detection and classification of rare cells, such as, but not limited to, circulating tumor cells.

Topping this off, Moore4Medical’s introduction of open technology platforms in organs-on-chip, as well as the specific attention dedicated to manufacturing and biotechnological aspects related to standardization, automation and ease of use of organs-on-chip, directly implement explicit and important recommendations for a fast and efficient progress of the field. These important recommendations were outlined by the prior ORCHID H2020 CSA project (https://h2020-orchid.eu/) in documents and workshops that laid the foundation of the European roadmap for organs-on-chip development and of the European Organs-on-Chip Society (https://www.euroocs.eu/).

Partners in the Moore4Medical’s WP2 (Organs-on-Chip):
Delft University of Technology (TU Delft, the Netherlands – leader)
Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e, the Netherlands)
Philips Electronics Netherlands (PEN, the Netherlands)
TNO/Holst Centre (TNO, the Netherlands)
BI/OND (the Netherlands)
Besi Netherlands (BESI-NL, the Netherlands)
Micronit Netherlands (MIC-NL, the Netherlands)
Imec Belgium (Belgium)
Multi Channel Systems (MCS, Germany)
Fraunhofer EMFT (FEMFT, Germany)
Microfluidic ChipShop (MFCS, Germany)
Menarini Silicon Biosystems (MSB, Italy)
BEonChip (BEOC, Spain)
Institute for Health Research (IISA, Spain)
University of Zaragoza (UNIZAR, Spain)
Institute of Telecommunication (ITAV, Portugal)
Institute of Engineering and Computer Engineering (INESC-MN, Portugal)
Besi Austria (BESI-AT, Austria)
EV Group (EVG, Austria)
Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM, Switzerland)
InSphero (Switzerland)
National Institute for R&D in Microtechnologies (IMT, Romania)
MicroLIQUID (Spain)
Center for Energy Research (CER, Hungary)
Aedus (AED, Hungary)

Report of EUROoCS 2020 Conference Online

Beyond expectations
The 2nd edition of the Annual EUROoCS (European Organ-on-Chip Society) Conference was very different from the one held before. Instead of sunny summer days in Uppsala, Sweden, COVID-19 put EUROoCS 2020 into our own offices and homes. EUROoCS 2020 went virtual and in a remarkably short space of time.

The organizing committee transformed the conference that was held on 8th and 9th of July 2020 into the most well attended ever. Twice as many people, all EUROoCS members, attended compared to the year before: in total 402 participants from 28 different countries, including almost all European countries, but also Australia, Canada, China, India, Iran, Israel, Japan and US. The latest results on Organ-on-Chip research were presented in 6 keynote lectures, 32 abstract selected talks and 129 posters.

Posters at a virtual meeting? These were presented in a virtual ‘poster gallery’ and discussed in a virtual room during interactive poster sessions. Thanks to the support and great deal of time and work of many people, the online conference was a great success and clearly demonstrated the increasing interest in Organ-on-Chip technology and the growing European research community.

Distribution of the participants by country (kindly provided by Berend van Meer, UTwente, the Netherlands)

Welcome

Christine Mummery, chair of EUROoCS and of the EUROoCS 2020 conference, welcomed the online participants on behalf of the EUROoCS 2020 Scientific Program Committee. She expressed her gratitude for the technical and financial support from the University of Twente (Organ-on-Chip Center Twente), and from the industry partners who were vital to the feasibility of the last minute format change and the presenter prizes: Gold (Boehringer Ingelheim, InSphero, UPM Biomedicals, Ushio); Silver (Fluigent, Transgene) and Bronze (CSEM, Dynamic42, Pyroscience, Tissuse).

 

Keynotes

Six keynote speakers from academia, regulatory network and industry presented the latest perspectives and results on different topics, ranging from Organ-on-Chip models for research on blood vessels, brain function, COVID-19 and pancreatic tumors, to the role of Body-on-Chip in the prediction of drug toxicity and efficacy, and the utility and application of Organ-on-Chip for regulatory purposes.

Andries van der Meer (University of Twente, the Netherlands) kicked off with a lecture on personalized engineered blood vessels in Organs-on-Chips, and the importance of the use of open technology platforms. Susanna Narkilahti (University of Tampere, Finland) presented different human pluripotent stem cell-based neuronal models, mimicking brain trauma and nerve innervation. Josef Penninger (University of British Columbia, Canada and Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria) gave a remarkable talk about the use of organoid models for the discovery of a soluble form of the ACE2 receptor as a potential treatment for Sars-CoV-2 infections. Most notably, he pointed out that he discovered ACE2, the cell receptor for the spike protein of Sars-CoV-2 in the fruit fly in 1994, and without this very basic research all those years ago, he would never have been able to use ACE2 as a ‘decoy’ for the virus and introduce it into clinical trials which are now in phase IIb of testing. An illustration of the importance of funding for basic research.

Andries van der Meer, Susanna Narkilahti and Josef Penninger

Maurice Whelan (European Commission, Joint Research Centre Ispra, Italy) focused on the challenges to establishing the scientific acceptability of Organs-on-Chips as models that can form part of regulatory decision-making. Milica Radisic (University of Toronto, Canada) highlighted the importance of intercellular interactions and presented a perfusable vascular network that she used for recapitulating the microenvironment of pancreatic tumors. Michael Shuler (Cornell University and Hesperos Inc., USA) addressed the potential of a ‘13 Organ-on-Chip’ model for accurate preclinical assessment of the efficacy or side-effects of drugs.

Maurice Whelan, Milica Radisic and Michael Shuler

 

Exciting sessions

On each day of the conference, two parallel sessions were held, some of which started with a selected abstract talk, followed by shorter presentations. In total there were 8 sessions addressing the following topics: Biomechanics; Microbiome; Organoids and Spheroids; Disease Models; (Bio)materials and Technology (2 sessions); Barrier and Vasculature; Reproductive and Metabolic Systems. Both senior and young talents from academia and industry gave interesting, high quality presentations about their research. Via online Questions & Answers there were opportunities for discussion afterwards, guided by the session chair. During the breaks, short movies from the sponsors were shown.

The posters were exhibited during the first day of the conference in the poster gallery. In the afternoon, the poster presenters received ‘visitors’ in their virtual room, which resulted in lively discussions. During the 3 subsequent interactive poster sessions, the participants could practice and experience scientific exchange at a distance, with a virtual toast on the new collaboration.

 

EUROoCS Awards

During the closing ceremony of the EUROoCS 2020 conference five prizes were awarded:

-Two Best Presentation Young Investigator Awards (selected from 19 of 32 presentations in total)
-Best Presentation Senior Investigator Award
-Two Best Poster Awards (129 posters in total)

The presentation awards were elected by a jury of ten experts chaired by Alexander Mosig from Jena University Hospital, Germany. The poster awards were chosen by a jury of ten experts chaired by Nathalie Picollet-D’hahan from CEA, France.

Congratulations to the following awardees:

Best Presentation Young Investigator Awards
Award 1:
The Best Presentation Young Investigator Award (€ 500), sponsored by Ushio (Japan) was awarded to Joram Mooiweer (University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands) for his talk ‘Celiac disease-on-chip: modeling a multifactorial disease in vitro’. The Celiac disease model will enable studies on the underlying disease mechanism and will provide opportunities for precision medicine approaches to treat this complex disease. The presentation was prepared in collaboration with his colleague Renée Moerkens, also at the University Medical Center Groningen.

Joram Mooiweer: Generation of the Celiac disease-on-chip model

Award 2:
The other Best Presentation Young Investigator Award (€500) went to Oliver Schneider (Fraunhofer IGB/University of Tübingen, Germany) for his talk ‘Electrical pacing of hiPSC-derived cardiac µ-tissues in a centrifugal Heart-on-Chip platform’. By implementing electrical pacing capabilities of this new design, Oliver demonstrated that the Heart-on-Chip platform has become a valuable tool for investigating advanced tissue maturation via electrical stimulation.

Olivier Schneider: Chip composition, showing electrode insertion into the media module

Best Presentation Senior Investigator Award
Lisa Hoelting from InSphero AG (Switzerland) received the Best Presentation Senior Investigator Award (€500) for her talk ‘Applying a microphysiological 3D human liver-islet microtissue platform to study drug-drug interaction in metabolic diseases’. The liver – islet MPS platform will be used for studies on metabolic disease progression, drug efficacy and toxicity testing, drug – drug interaction and drug clearance assays.

Lisa Hoelting: Drug-drug interactions in the liver-islet MPS platform

Best Poster Awards
Award 1:
The Best Poster Award (€250), sponsored by UPM Biomedicals is granted to Marc Vila Cuenca (Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands) for his poster entitled ‘Generating CADASIL patient-derived Vessels-on-Chip to model hereditary cerebral small vessel disease’. The hiPSC-based 3D Vessels-on-Chip network that has been developed in the group of Valeria Orlova will be used to recapitulate CADASIL pathogenesis by including patient-derived vascular smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells.

Marc Vila Cuenca: hiPSC-derived Blood Vessel-on-Chip

Award 2:
Bilge Sen Elci (EPFL, Switzerland) also received a Best Poster Award (€250) for her poster entitled ‘A Bile Duct-on-a-Chip’. The microfluidic chip-based approach to steer hepatobiliary organoid development into tubular tissues within microfabricated extracellular matrices (ECM) resulted in a Bile Duct-on-a-Chip with significant potential for the study of cholangiopathies.

Bilge Sen Elci: Bile Duct Tube Formation-on-Chip from mouse liver ductal organoid derived sible cells

Honourable mentions:
The poster jury has also decided that the following scientists deserve an honourable mention because of their excellent posters:

Merve Bulut (Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands): Engineered 3D vessels-on-chip to model inflammatory responses using hiPSC-derived endothelial cells

Julia Rogal (Fraunhofer IGB / University of Tübingen, Germany): WAT’s up: a human immuno-competent and patient-specific white adipose tissue-on-a-chip

Ann-Kristin Muhsmann (Technical University Berlin, Germany): Fully automated multiorgan-chip assay execution and analysis

Katharina Schlünder (Fraunhofer IGB / University of Tübingen, Germany): PDMS-free microphysiological Pancreas-on-Chip platform to model endocrine function and metabolism

Peter Ertl (Vienna University of Technology, Austria): Microfluidic Multi-sized Brain Organoid Microarray for BBB transport screening

Nuria Roldan (AlveoliX, Switzerland): A smart breathing alveolus on chip model: concept and applications

 

EUROoCS News

During the second conference day Christine Mummery, chair of EUROoCS, informed the members on new developments within the society.

Welcome to four additional EUROoCS Board Members
The results of the voting by the EUROoCS members for four additional EUROoCS Board members in June 2020 were announced. This will expand the current Board from four to eight representatives and are appointed from 10th of July 2020 for a period of six years. Christine Mummery welcomed the elected members and expressed confidence in their added value to the Board and looks forward to their contribution to further professionalization of EUROoCS in the coming years.

The new EUROoCS Board members are:

Erika Györvary
Technology Coordinator & BD Life Sciences
CSEM, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Torsten Mayr
Leader Workgroup Applied Sensors
Institute of Analytical Chemistry and Food Chemistry (ACFC)
Graz University of Technology
Graz, Austria

Andries van der Meer
Associate Professor/director Organ-on-Chip Center Twente
Faculty of Science and Technology
University of Twente
Enschede, the Netherlands

Marco Rasponi
Co-founder and President of Biomimx Srl
Assistant Professor Politecnico di Milano
Milan, Italy

 

Welcome to the EUROoCS Industrial Advisory Board
Since June 1st 2020 EUROoCS has implemented an Industrial Advisory Board (IAB), consisting of six members from important industrial stakeholders and chaired by Thomas Singer from Roche.

The IAB advises the EUROoCS Board on translational aspects and industrial adoption of the technology. Among other tasks, the IAB will scout for new relationships for EUROoCS among companies in order to catalyse greater industry involvement and collaboration in research activities.
The IAB will support the EUROoCS community in strengthening science and technology and promoting the acceptance of Organ-on-Chip technology by the health authorities. Members are appointed for three years and are eligible for re-appointment for another three years.

During the EUROoCS 2020 conference, Christine Mummery introduced the members and mentioned that their input and advice in promoting the visibility and utility of Organ-on-Chip, in many facets of the life sciences and engineering, is highly appreciated.

The members of the IAB are:

Thomas Singer (Chair)
Global Head of Pharmaceutical Sciences/ Senior Vice President
Roche Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development
Roche Innovation Center Basel, Basel Switzerland

Lisa Benincosa
Global Head of Translational Medicine
Merck KGaA
Darmstadt, Germany

Eckhard von Keutz
Senior Vice President and Head of Translational Sciences
Bayer AG
Research & Development, Pharmaceuticals
Translational Sciences
Wuppertal, Germany

Jochen Kühnl
Lab Manager
Representative Cosmetics Europe
Beiersdorf, Hamburg, Germany

Bennard Ravenzwaay
Senior Vice President
BASF SE, Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Germany

Armin Wolf
Chief Scientific Officer InSphero AG, Schlieren, Switzerland
Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Department of
Chemistry, Kaiserslautern, Germany

 

Regulatory Advisory Board in preparation
In addition to the Industrial Advisory Board, a Regulatory Advisory Board (RAB) is currently in preparation. Maurice Whelan (JRC Ispra, Italy) will chair the Board. The RAB will give advice on regulatory aspects, and will stimulate and facilitate engagement between different regulatory and Organ-on-Chip R&D communities including end users, to advance the uptake and use of Organ-on-Chip for regulatory purposes. The RAB will officially be installed later this year.

Towards an Organ-on-Chip Journal
EUROoCS is proud to announce that, in partnership with ISSCR (The International Society on Stem Cell Research), a subsection of Stem Cell Reports (published by Cell Press; IF June 2020 6.0) will be dedicated to Organ-on-Chip.

The scope is Organ-on-Chip models combined with stem cells and derivatives. Currently the editorial Board is being formed, and guidelines for authors and call for papers are in preparation. There will be a discounted publication fee for EUROoCS members, and shared revenue for each article published. A trial period of 3-5 years has been agreed.

EUROoCS for and by members
EUROoCS is approaching 500 members. Many members experience the benefits of the EUROoCS membership and becoming part of an expanding network of experts in the field of Organ-on-Chip. Members enjoy discounted registration fee for the Annual Conference and discounted publication fee for the upcoming journal. Exclusive access to the members part of the EUROoCS website enables members to find information and connect to collaborators via the Forum. All members can update their profile and present their research results, projects, jobs and publications on the website. The Organ-on-Chip community is by you and for you!

 

EUROoCS Conferences 2021 and 2022

EUROoCS 2021:
Next year the EUROoCS conference will take place in Uppsala in Sweden on 1st and 2nd of July 2021. Conference chair is Maria Tenje from Uppsala University. Let’s hope that by that time the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

EUROoCS 2022:
In 2022 the Annual EUROoCS Conference will be held in Grenoble in France on 4 and 5 July. Nathalie Picollet-D’hahan from CEA (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives) in Grenoble will be the Conference Chair and is looking forward to welcome you.

Please save the dates – Everyone is welcome to join!

Many thanks

In spite of the COVID-19 problems EUROoCS 2020 was an excellent and memorable experience, thanks to the help of many people, including the Scientific Program Committee, the EUROoCS administrative support and in particular the fantastic technical team of Organ-on-Chip Center Twente at Twente University, led by Berend van Meer. Christine Mummery also thanked all sponsors, jury members, speakers, poster presenters, in fact all participants for the inspiring event, for their contribution to the success of this conference. Let’s continue this good spirit as an Organ-on-Chip Community in the future.

Christine Mummery