Cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and brain diseases are major health burdens in developed countries. Worldwide, there are 20 million deaths per year from cardiovascular disease. It is estimated that in the USA alone, a delay of just 5 years in the onset of symptoms of dementia would save 50 billion dollars per year in patient care. Without new approaches for prevention and novel therapeutic solutions, these conditions are expected to increase to epidemic proportions in aging populations.
The development of new treatments is however severely hampered by the inability of the current generation of model systems to fully capture features of human tissue and disease. Therefore, it is essential that our traditional methods for health research are redesigned. Human disease-specific stem cell and organoid technologies are increasingly recognized as cutting-edge research platforms for functional genomics, disease modeling and drug target discovery in both academic and commercial sectors. Combined with sophisticated biophysical and biochemical assays, multicellular microfluidic structures, they are already accelerating drug repurposing (the use of existing drugs for new therapeutic indications), and supporting drug target discovery.
to improve life expectancy and quality in patients with chronic, intractable disorders and provide multidisciplinary training for the next generation of (bio)medical researchers and specialists.
develop these new approaches, designated as ‘organ-on-chip’, and achieve a paradigm shift from empirical treatment of symptoms of disease to cures based on correcting the underlying cause. Achieving this paradigm shift will reduce the time-to-clinic from years to months. The outcomes will be pivotal in understanding disease mechanisms and individual predisposition, complex tissue-, immune system- and organ interactions and developing (personalized) drug therapies through screening for tomorrow’s precision medicine.
- to make complex human tissue and organ systems in organ-on-chip devices that model cardiovascular, brain and gastrointestinal disease interactions
- provide accurate and sensitive readouts of disease pathology that could serve as diagnostic, disease-state and therapeutic response biomarkers
- integrate the unique human (intestinal) microbiome and inflammatory component of disease into the chips
- use the models to identify or engineer disease mutations, genetic modifiers and variants that predispose to disease and use these for prevention, personalized medicine and as a basis for new therapeutics
- replace or reduce animal experiments