Intestine-on-a-chip with integrated immune and microbiota compartments
The INIMINI-health project brings together a consortium of leading knowledge institutes, technology suppliers, food, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical companies, and a health fund to develop an immune- and microbiota-competent intestine on-a-chip model. This advanced model will enable studying the crucial interactions between gut epithelium, immune cells and microbiota in health and disease, necessary for developing new health-promoting nutritional and pharmaceutical products.
Development of novel strategies for prevention of chronic diseases rely on innovative technologies that can identify novel lifestyle and dietary interventions. Because individuals prone to disease have a less robust immune and microbiota balance and food interventions can improve this balance, there is an urgent need for novel approaches for healthy and personalised nutrition. While impact of food, specific nutrients or drugs on the intestine are ideally studied in human trials, these trials have their limitations in costs and ability to study mechanism of action. The emergence of powerful organotypic intestinal in vitro models will be exploited and further developed in this project.
The project delivers model systems with enhanced predictive value for in vivo impact of food, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. It will reduce the need for undesirable animal testing and (costly) human trials and can serve as a medium-throughput screening model. They set out to generate an immune- and microbiota competent intestine-on-a-chip (INIMINI-health model), that exploits a commercially available on-a-chip system that already has been proven effective for simple epithelial cell line-based models. Through an active role of the industrial partners, they ensure that the model will be optimised and validated with test compounds that reflect commercially - and consumer-relevant products, but also products that have already undergone previous human trials to optimally benchmark the model to in vivo activities. A next step in development is a fully personalised model, which the INIMINI-health project will maximally work towards.