Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH) entails a broad scope of disciplines, from pharmaceuticals to medical technology and from healthcare infrastructure to vaccination. To realise its mission – vital citizens in a healthy economy - the Top Sector builds on the strengths of the Dutch LSH sector to address the biggest societal challenges in prevention, cure and care. By funding multidisciplinary public-private partnerships (PPPs) the Top Sector aims to facilitate innovation. Here we give an overview of  a number of funded R&D projects by Top Sector LSH. The page is updated continuously.

Modeling Parkinson’s disease

Development of a midbrain-on-a-chip model for Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterised by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra region of the brain. Despite intensive research, the cause of the disease is still elusive and there is currently no disease-modifying therapy for its treatment. Therefore, it is crucial to achieve a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the neuronal degeneration. A major shortcoming toward this goal is the lack of human-specific predictive models for PD. In this project, a new public-private partnership in the Netherlands and Luxembourg is initiated to address this scientific and technological gap, by building an innovative experimental platform that recapitulates the essential features of PD.

PD is the second-most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder in the aging population. More than 10 million people worldwide are living with PD, with about 50,000 in the Netherlands alone (~3 in every 1000 people). PD incurs a total healthcare cost of ~€220 million in the Netherlands (2011 data), placing an immense economic burden to the society. Moreover, these numbers are expected to double in the coming decade due to demographic aging.

The consortium partners propose to develop a midbrain-on-a-chip model, by culturing induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived midbrain organoids in a perfused chip. The development of a robust and long-lasting in vitro cultivation platform is expected to significantly extend the neuronal survival in the organoids, thereby effectively establishing a new disease model for dissecting the complex pathophysiological features of PD.

The project is expected to result in a robust in vitro platform of midbrain organoids, providing an ideal tool for systematically dissecting the mechanisms underlying PD as well as for aiding future development and testing of novel treatment options.