Brain-on-a-Chip to study dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases
Neurodegenerative diseases, disorders which affect neurons and glial cells in the human brain, affect millions of people world-wide. These neurodegenerative disorders generate significant medical costs, substantially burdening the healthcare system and society. There are various neurodegenerative disorders, of which two of the most well-known are Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). ALS affects approximately 1 in 50.000 people and is responsible for the gradual deterioration and death of motor neuron cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to the inability of the nervous system to initiate and control voluntary movements. Generally, ALS patients die from respiratory failure within 3 to 5 years from symptom-onset. AD also is another severe neurodegenerative disorder and is the main cause of dementia, affecting up to 70% of people with dementia. Aging is the main risk factor of AD, and genetic studies have revealed some causative genes and genetic risk factors, but for the majority of AD patients the cause of dementia remains unclear.
The Nano+ project is a public-private partnership between TU/e, UMCU, and InnoSer Nederland BV. the aim is to demonstrate the feasibility to recapitulate altered electrophysiological signaling in brain organoids for healthy and neurodegenerative diseased tissue. To measure this key aspect of brain activity, we integrate pluripotent stem cell-based organoids of the primary cortex (UMCU), with the state-of-the art bioreactor technology for the generation of an electrophysiological read-out (TU/e). Together with the preclinical research expertise of InnoSer, the Nano+ project will provide a critical experimental basis that serves as first driver for the development towards a fully validated BOC model for neurodegenerative diseases.