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.

Reduction of animal experiments through in-vitro modelling of multi-organ interactions

Reducing animal experiments by on-chip modelling of multi-organ interactions in experimental regenerative therapies for diabetic nephropathy

Many experimental therapies never reach the clinic because of unwanted side-effects or lack of therapeutic effects in animals or Phase-I clinical trials. To better predict these factors in the lab, in this project a multi-organ-on-a-chip system will be used to investigate the interaction between extracellular vesicle therapy and different organs in diabetic nephropathy. 

With the aging population and Western lifestyle, diabetes and diabetes-associated diseases are rising to epidemic proportions. Diabetic nephropathy results from chronic diabetes, and is the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease. Great social and economic burden associated with kidney diseases urge for novel therapies. 

Stem cell-based regenerative medicine, including stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles (EV), may provide such therapies. For development and subsequent human translation of these therapies, representative animal models are indispensable to gain comprehensive understanding on molecular mechanisms and potential (unwanted, indirect) effects in off-target organs. However, testing candidate therapies in animals is expensive, time-consuming, and associated with ethical concerns. Reduction of animals by stringent pre-selection of potential therapies is therefore needed. Based on recent developments in microfluidics (TissUse), 3D organoid culturing and EV biology (UMC Utrecht), the consortium partners will develop a human “Multi-Organ-on-a-Chip” platform combining kidney, liver and pancreas physiology. As diabetic nephropathy originates from a systemic disease, such a system is excellently suited to assess therapeutic efficacy of EV-based regenerative therapies in a systemic environment. 

To this end, they will develop a chip-based model functionally combining liver, pancreas and kidney proximal physiology in health and disease. In this model, experimental EV-based therapy will be applied, and functional and molecular effects in each organ will be evaluated.