3Rs student grants 2021: call for submissions

The European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) supports students and young scientists with outstanding work in the field of alternative approaches to attend a high-profile scientific event.

Every year, several high-profile international meetings bring together world-class scientists working on the development and acceptance of 3R alternatives to animal testing (Replacement, Reduction or Refinement). Costs linked to participation may prevent students with promising work or young scientists at the beginning of their career from attending these events. The EPAA partners are therefore happy to sponsor the 3Rs student grants to facilitate the participation of students and young scientists in such events. Deadline July 12th, 2021.

A jury will assess the applications and propose a list of selected candidates to the EPAA steering committee. The jury will be composed of 4 members (two from the industry and two from the European Commission) who will judge.

For each of the eligible events, a lump sum of €1500 is available. Two levels of grants are offered by the EPAA partners: 1 half grant and 1 full grant.

A half grant covers the reimbursement of the event registration fees for the student/young scientist as well as travel and accommodation fees, based on the expense receipts up to a maximum of €500.
A full grant covers the reimbursement of the event registration fees for the student/young scientist as well as travel and accommodation fees, up to a maximum total amount of €1000, based on the expense receipts.

For Eligibility, Application and selection process details see the European Commission website.

Source: European Commission website.

 

Dutch Organ-on-Chip project receives huge grant to make the leap from lab to fab

NWO, the Dutch Research Council, has awarded a Perspective grant of 4.8 million euros for a Dutch multidisciplinary consortium, led by Eindhoven University of Technology professor Jaap den Toonder to develop much-needed universal standard for the pharmaceutical industry.

A visual representation of one tissue chip of skin and hair and two engineering chips, which are precisely clicked onto the ‘docking’ plate and to each other. Picture: hDMT

Scientists are pushing ahead building ‘organ-on-chips’, small chips with human cells, which are useful, for example, for studying cancerous metastases in the bloodstream or the development of scar tissue, or for testing the effect of drugs or food outside a human body. To make the step to industry, a collective of dozens of research groups, companies and knowledge institutions, brought together by the Dutch organ-on-chip consortium hDMT, are building a universal standard, supported by a NWO Perspective grant of nearly five million euros. The ultimate goal in the future: to link multiple organ chips together to simulate a whole body.

The Dutch organ-on-chip consortium hDMT brought the following partners together for this NWO Perspective program: Amsterdam UMC/VUmc, Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, UMC Utrecht, Leiden University, Maastricht University, Twente University, Wageningen University & Research, 300MICRONS, Applikon, BioLamina, Convergence, Demcon, dsRAT Stichting Proefdiervrij, Galapagos, Genmab, Hy2Care, IBA Lifesciences, ibidi, Life Science Methods, LipoCoat, Micronit Microtechnologies, OnePlanet Research Center/imec, Poietis, PolyVation, provio, Qurin Diagnostics, ReumaNederland, RIVM, Spektrax, TissUse, TNO, Unilever Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre, Ushio INC.

For more information see here

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