Brain-on-a-Chip technology for advanced screening for drugs against neurodegenerative disorders

SCHEME: Proof-of-Concept

CALL: 2016

DOMAIN: BM - Life Sciences, Biology and Medicine

FIRST NAME: Jens

LAST NAME: Schwamborn

INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIP / PPP: No

INDUSTRY / PPP PARTNER:

HOST INSTITUTION: University of Luxembourg

KEYWORDS: cell culture models, drug screening, microfluidics, induced pluripotent stem cells, brain-on-a-chip, Parkinson's disease

START: 2016-03-01

END: 2017-08-31

WEBSITE: https://www.uni.lu

Submitted Abstract

Relevance: We focus on Parkinson’s disease, which is the second most common neurodegenerative disease. The number of individuals suffering from this disease will grow by 30-35% to 16 million people and the relevant market is estimated to be as large as $4.6 billion. Up until now, there is no effective cure.Issue/customer need: The difficulty to identify appropriate medications that rescue threatened cells in the affected midbrain lies in the limitation of currently available in vitro models for neurodegenerative diseases. These models consist of homogeneous two dimensional cultures of single cell types which inadequately recapitulate the complexity of the human brain. What pharmaceuticals need is an innovative pre-clinical analysis method which is both cost-effective and reflective of highly relevant results.Problem solving: We use induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) derived from Parkinson’s disease patients, which are used to generate three-dimensional organoids resembling the physiology of the human midbrain. In these brain-on-a-chip models disease specific phenotypes are stronger and more relevant for the actual situation in patients than in the case of two dimensional cultures. Thus, these advanced disease models represent a sound basis for screenings to identify new methods to modulate or treat the disease. To make this approach cost-effective and suitable for screening purposes we use microfluids devices.Goal: The overall goal of this project is to further develop microfluidic devices and to provide the proof of concept for drug testing, i.e. to validate the applicability of our brain-on-a-chip technology to investigate the rescue of Parkinson’s disease phenotypes.

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