300 million euros for a new international stem cell consortium

A grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation of up to 300 million euro now enables the establishment of a major international research center focused on stem cell medicine. The center will be a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Australia, and Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands. The partnership between these three world-leading research institutions will pave the way for future stem cell-based treatments.

Read more here:

CEN-CENELEC Organ-on-Chip Focus Group Creation

In April, the online workshop ‘Organ on Chip: Towards Standardization‘ took place as the 2021 edition of Putting Science into Standards (PSIS) in collaboration with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

The PSIS workshop gathered more than 200 participants from academia, industry, policy makers, regulatory experts, and standardizers. You can find out more about the workshop and the different themes and issues that were discussed over its two-day run in this event report published by the JRC.

In June, it was decided by CEN and CENELEC Technical Board that a CEN-CENELEC Focus Group on Organ on Chip (FG OoC) would be established. The secretariat of FG OoC is held by NEN, the Royal Netherlands Standardization Institute. The Focus Group shall ensure interaction between all relevant European stakeholders interested in potential standardization in the field of OoC, map ongoing activities, define priority needs and opportunities and recommend further action to ensure that standards support the deployment of OoC in industry and help to ensure its regulatory acceptance.

The primary objectives of this Focus Group will be:

– developing an overview for the stakeholder community on suitable standards already publicly available or in preparation
– developing a roadmap for potential standardization issues relevant for OoC
– identifying and considering technical bodies addressing areas related to OoC technologies, such as ISO/TC 276 Biotechnology, ISO/TC 215 Health Informatics, CEN/TC 140 In vitro diagnostic medical devices, CEN/TC 251 Health Informatics;
– advising CEN and CENELEC Technical Boards on strategic issues concerning standardization within the Group’s overall remit and, where no suitable standard exists, the FG OoC should recommend best ways to provide them;
– identifying and considering any relevant specific issues linked to European legislation; liaising with innovation/research projects impacting the field of OoC;
– establishing an active dialogue between stakeholders and liaising with the European Organ-on-Chip Society (EUROoCS) to identify potential synergies.

The Focus Group will be holding its kick-off meeting virtually on 2 March 2022.from 1.30-4.30 pm (Amsterdam/Europe time).

Researchers and organizations active in Organ-on-Chip can express their interest in contributing to this Focus Group by contacting their National Standardization Bodies (NSBs-CEN) or National Committees (NCs-CENELEC), who will organise the contributions at national level to the Focus Group.

Contact: Livia MIAN lmian@cencenelec.eu

Source: https://www.cencenelec.eu/news-and-events/news/2021/briefnews/2021-12-13-cen-cenelec-organ-on-chip-focus-group-creation/

EMA implements new measures to minimise animal testing during medicines development

EMA is putting in place special support to developers to replace, reduce and refine animal use for the development, manufacturing and testing of human and veterinary medicines. The Agency is promoting these three principles — replace, reduce and refine; commonly referred to as 3Rs — through EMA’s Innovation Task Force (ITF). This action will facilitate the development and implementation of New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) that are in line with the European Union legislation on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.

More information see the EMA website.

Source: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/news/ema-implements-new-measures-minimise-animal-testing-during-medicines-development


Nation-wide Organ-on-Chip networks

In many European countries national consortia or networks on Organ-on-Chip have already been established or are under construction. Nathalie Picollet D’hahan (CEA, France) invited the national contact points of these initiatives to pitch their progress during EUROoCS 2021. The result is an inspiring movie illustrating the state-of-the-art of 8 nation-wide Organ-on-Chip networks on Organ-on-Chip and the growing community building in Europe.

Watch the movie

The 8 nation-wide Organ-on-Chip networks with their national contact points

Changes in the EUROoCS organization

The results of the voting by the EUROoCS members for two additional EUROoCS Board members and a new vice-chair in June 2021 were presented, resulting in a further expansion of the current Board from eight to ten representatives. At the EUROoCS 2021 conference, Christine Mummery welcomed the elected members and expressed confidence in their added value to the Board and their contribution to further professionalization of EUROoCS in the coming years. From the 3rd of July 2021 the new members are appointed for six years and the vice-chair for a period of two years after which he will become the new chair of EURoOCS.

The newly appointed EUROoCS Board members are:

At the end of the conference Christine Mummery passed the virtual baton to Peter Loskill who will be the next chair of EUROoCS for the coming two years. A great thank you to Christine, first chair of EUROoCS, for all efforts from the very start to build this growing Organ-on-Chip community. And good luck to Peter!

Industrial Advisory Board (IAB)
Pelin Candarlioglu from GSK (UK) is the new chair of the EUROoCS Industrial Advisory Board. Pelin was willing to take over the chairmanship from Thomas Singer, who set up the IAB and will stay in the board as IAB member. His contribution of the last several years has been highly appreciated by the EUROoCS Board.

EUROoCS Awards

During the closing ceremony of the EUROoCS 2021 conference seven prizes were awarded:

-Best Presentation Award (40 presentations in total)
-Best Junior Presentation Award
-Best Poster Award (130 posters in total)
-EUROoCS 2022 Travel Award (3x)
-Exhibitor Quiz Award

The presentation awards were elected by a jury of 21 experts chaired by Erika Györvary (CSEM, Switzerland), José Tarazona (EFSA) with support from Maryam Shojaee (Uppsala University, Sweden).

Congratulations to the following awardees:

Best Presentation Award
The Best Presentation Award (€ 500), sponsored by Nortis (USA) was awarded to Ulgu Arslan (Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands) for her talk ‘ Vascularized three-dimensional cardiac microtissue-on-chip’. hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes, endo-thelial cells and cardiac fibroblasts were integrated into 3D scaffold-free cardiac microtissues, which displayed well organized microvasculature network. These 3D cardiac microtissues were next integrated into a microfluidic chip with an external network formed by hiPSC-derived endothelial cells and primary human brain vascular pericytes. A promising approach for further maturation of the tissue via optimal nutrient delivery and for controlled drug delivery. Ulgu is from the group of Valeria Orlova in Leiden and is a PhD student in the EU ITN Network coordinated by Peter Loskill.

Best Junior Presentation Award
Tengku Ibrahim Maulana (University of Tübingen, Germany) received the Best Junior Presentation Award (€500), sponsored by InSphero, for his talk ‘Breast-cancer-on-chips recapitulating tumor-microenvironment interaction applicable for CAR-T cell testing’. Two human breast-cancer-on-chip models were developed, that mimic different aspects of the tumor microenvironment (TME) to study impact of breast TME to cancer growth and immunotherapy. These models have the potential to unravel the impact of adipose tissue state on the efficacy of CAR-T cell immunotherapy.

Best Poster Award
The Best Poster Award (€500), sponsored by Emulate was granted to Lea Lara de Maddalena (Alveolix, Switzerland) for her poster entitled ‘Pulmonary fibrosis-on-chip: A tool for drug efficacy testing with the example of Nintedanib’. An in vitro alveolar model has been developed, mimicking some features of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). The effects of mediators of fibrogenesis (TGFß) and inhibitors of fibrosis (Nintedanib) on barrier disruption, cell cytotoxicity and gene expression of fibrotic markers were studied. The model might be a valuable tool for investigating new biomarkers and for efficacy studies of new antifibrotic drugs.

EUROoCS 2022 Travel Awards

Award 1:
The EUROoCS 2022 Travel Award (€500) sponsored by Roche went to Milica Dostanić (Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands) for the presentation of her work on ‘An engineered heart tissue platform with integrated pacing microelectrodes’. Electric pacing was incorporated into a miniature engineered heart tissue platform by means of microfabricated electrodes, enabling ultimate accuracy and precision in controlled in situ tissue stimulation. The suitability of the integrated microelectrodes to replace external pacing electrodes, and the biocompatibility of the overall platform were shown. The system was pre-configured to fit a 96-well plate format to enable forthcoming high-throughput biological assays. Milica is a PhD student of Massimo Mastrangeli in the Netherlands Organ-on-Chip Initiative (NOCI) sponsored by NWO/OCW and coordinated by Christine Mummery.

Award 2:
The second EUROoCS 2022 Travel award (€250), also sponsored by Roche was granted to Marina Pérez-Aliacar (University of Zaragoza, Spain) for the presentation of her poster about ‘Intelligent Microfluidics: using deep learning to predict model parameters from glioblastoma-on-a-chip images’. In this work, the power of deep learning and microfluidics was combined to present a novel methodology for parameter identification from culture images using Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN). This methodology may be seen as a first step towards patient-specific models in which the particular parameters defining the tumor behavior can be predicted and used to make clinical decisions.

Award 3:
Inês Sousa-Pereira (IBEC, Spain) received the third EUROoCS 2022 Travel Award (€250), sponsored by EUROoCS for her poster on ‘Biomimetic material for neuronal culture’. New hydrogels were presented, that resulted in higher viability rates in neuronal proliferation and differentiation, projection growth, increased connectivity and neuronal markers expression. These hydrogels are promising scaffolds for brain modelling, applicable to 3D long-term culture and differentiation of cells, such as iPSC-derived neurons.

Exhibitor Quiz Award
Claire Dessalles (LadHyX Ecole Polytechnique, France) received the Exhibitor Quiz Award (€100), a bonus prize sponsored by EUROoCS, for the best score in the Q&A competition about the exhibitor booths of the sponsors.

EUROoCS for and by members

EUROoCS is a growing society with currently 500 members from 32 different countries. Time to redefine the strategy and look ahead to the coming years. Together with the strategy consultancy Change21 a strategic plan was developed using the outcome of the results of a survey among the EUROoCS members, interviews with the backoffice and online field research. Based on this plan an action plan is now being developed, including the next steps towards: 

– a clear and future-proof Mission and Vision
– (multi)-annual plan with clear goals and evaluation
– stronger member engagement
– more events and activities
– clear communication strategy (website, social media, newsletter)
– visibility and balanced representation of national networks
– fundraising strategy
– supportive back office

The EUROoCS Board will seek advice from the IAB and RAB for working out this action plan further. Different committees, such as an event committee, dissemination/outreach committee, training committee and fundraising committee, will be set up and chaired by EUROoCS Board members, with strong involvement of the EUROoCS members.


The Intersection of Stem Cells and Engineering

Podcast with Christine Mummery and Peter Loskill

Following the publication of the Special issue on Organs-on-Chip in Stem Cell Reports, the guest editors Christine Mummery and Peter Loskill were invited by Martin Pera (Editor-in-Chief of Stem Cell Reports) to join the podcast to talk about the intersection of stem cells, microphysiological systems and Organs-on-Chip technology in understanding disease, screening drugs and personalized medicine.


Christine Mummery, PhD, Professor of Developmental Biology at Leiden University Medical Center heading the iPSC & Organ-on-Chip Hotel at the LUMC. She is also chair of hDMT, the Dutch Organ-on-Chip Consortium), the recent past chair of EUROoCS and the recent past president of the ISSCR.

Peter Loskill, PhD W3-Professor for Organ-on-Chip Research at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen and the Natural and Medical Sciences Institute as well as the recent new chair of the European-Organ-on-Chip-Society (EUROoCS).

Martin Pera, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, Stem Cell Reports and The Jackson Laboratory

Supporting Documents
Special Issue: Organs-on-Chip

Report of EUROoCS 2021 conference online

Ever-growing interest

The 3rd edition of the Annual EUROoCS (European Organ-on-Chip Society) Conference was again an online experience because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. This time the organizing committee could select a different platform for the conference with many more options for interaction. There were even more attendees in the EUROoCS 2021 conference, held on the 1st and 2nd of July 2021, than in the previous year: in total 442 participants from 26 different countries. This year the latest results on Organ-on-Chip research were presented in 6 keynote lectures, 40 abstract selected talks and 130 posters. The posters were presented in three interactive virtual poster sessions. New in this conference were the panel discussions in two special sessions, where the participants could meet and interact with the members of the EUROoCS Industrial Advisory Board and EUROoCS Regulatory Advisory Board. As usual, a Prize Ceremony with many young winners of different awards was one of the highlights of this conference. The sponsors of the conference could be approached in the exhibition via Q&A and live chat. Thanks to the excellent work of the scientific program committee, the international review committee and the local organizing committee of Uppsala University in Sweden, all led by the conference chair Maria Tenje, and also the professional support of AkademiKonferens and technical assistance of the AppInConf team, the online conference was again a great success and showed that, in spite of the pandemic, the Organ-on-Chip community flourishes as never before.

Statistics EUROoCS 2021

A detailed report of the EUROoCS 20201 conference is available here.

Science paper with Roche’s perspectives on Human microphysiological systems for drug development

Microphysiological systems (MPS) may provide a way to better understand and address the main failures of clinical programs: lack of efficacy or unacceptable side effects that are not predicted in animals or simpler cell systems during early preclinical stages. Despite the mostly exploratory nature of current MPS, there is an appetite for the uptake of the technology by pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to improve on human predictivity, with the long-term goal of eventually replacing animal models wherever possible. Simultaneously, both academic groups and multiple biotech companies are developing increasingly refined MPS models to meet the needs and quality standards required for drug development such as scalability and robustness. Read more

Roth A and MPS-WS Berlin 2019 [Marx U, Vilén L, Ewart L, Griffith LG, Hartung T, Ingber DE, Mendrick DL, Steger-Hartmann T and Tagle DA]. Human microphysiological systems for drug development. Science 2021, 373:1304-1306

Source: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abc3734