Innovation examples

Zebrafish in toxicity testing
Innovation examples

Zebrafish in toxicity testing

Zebrafish are increasingly recognised as a useful model for toxicity testing of chemical substances. Testing strategies are becoming more based on mechanisms of toxicity structured in adverse outcome pathways describing the chain of events leading to toxicity or disease. Using a battery of dedicated in vitro and in silico assays, insight can be gained in how exposure leads to disease. For certain diseases it is known that toxicity relies on the interaction between different organs and cell types, which requires research on whole organisms in addition to simple in vitro models. The zebrafish is considered a valuable whole organism model in a mechanism-based testing strategy. At RIVM, the zebrafish embryo model is used for testing the effect of chemical substances on several adverse outcomes and diseases. For more information see: https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP9888; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18136717; www.linkedin.com/in/harm-heusinkveld
03:014 days ago
Animal-free computational modelling for prevention of human chemical-induced neural tube defects
Innovation examples

Animal-free computational modelling for prevention of human chemical-induced neural tube defects

Animal-free methods for human chemical safety assessment are promising tools for the reduction of animal testing. However, these methods only measure a small aspect of biology compared to an in vivo test. The reductionist nature of these methods thus limits their individual application in the regulatory arena of chemical risk assessment. Ontologies can be used to describe human biology, and delineate the basis of adverse outcome pathway networks that describe how chemical exposures may lead to adverse health effects. This pathway description can then help to select animal-free in vitro and in silico methods, comprehensively covering the network. The comprehensiveness of this approach, firmly rooted in human biology, is expected to facilitate regulatory acceptance of animal-free methods. As an example, this video zooms in on the development of a computational model for neural tube development, an aspect of human development that is especially vulnerable to chemical disruption. This research is part of the ONTOX project (https://www.ontox-project.eu). For more information on the concept of the Virtual Human, click here (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cotox.2019.03.009.).
03:0546 days ago
Developmental neurotoxicity testing using stem cells
Innovation examples

Developmental neurotoxicity testing using stem cells

Children should grow up in a safe and healthy environment. Disruption of brain development may have enormous impact on future life and might result in disorders such as ADHD or cognitive decline. The effect of compound exposure on the developing brain is largely unknown, since in the current regulatory test procedures in experimental animals effects on the brain are rarely investigated and human relevance of these animal models is under debate. Researchers at RIVM are developing a cell model based on human stem cells that mimics a small part of the developing brain. This method is human-relevant, animal-free, and based on mechanistic knowledge of human biology and physiology of brain development. The model can be an important component in a testing strategy to test the safety of chemicals and pharmaceuticals on the developing brain.
02:272 months ago
Understanding implant safety in vitro
Innovation examples

Understanding implant safety in vitro

Each year, millions of people receive an implant. The function of damaged tissues or organs is successfully restored in most people, however, some do develop complications. The safety of medical devices is indicated for legislation using international regulations. In the relevant standards, tests mainly focus on the chemical nature of the implants using classical toxicological end-points. However, more recently we have learned that the mechanical forces from an implant on the host-tissue can have significant effects on the host-response as well. At RIVM we want to develop an animal-free model that better resembles the interface between the implant and the host-tissue, and by updating the testing strategies contribute to implant safety on the long term.
03:043 months ago
Respiratory toxicity using in vitro methods
Innovation examples

Respiratory toxicity using in vitro methods

The airways form a barrier for inhaled compounds, however, such compounds may cause local effects in the airways or may lead to lung diseases, such as fibrosis or COPD. Cell models of the respiratory tract, cultured at the air-liquid-interface (ALI) are a relevant model to assess the effects of inhaled compounds on the airways. Such models allow human relevant exposure, which is via the air, and assessment of effects on the epithelial cell layer. At RIVM we use air-liquid-interface cultured cell models and expose these to airborne compounds to assess the effects of agents such as nanomaterials, air pollutants or compounds from cigarette smoke. By using a mechanism-based approach to assess the effects of these compounds we invest in animal-free alternatives that better predict adverse effects in humans.
02:247 months ago
FirstbaseBIO - human brain organoids for studying neurological diseases
Innovation examples
HealthInnovationIn vitro

FirstbaseBIO - human brain organoids for studying neurological diseases

Human neurological diseases are still poorly understood, amongst others because animals are used as a model for the human brain. A way to overcome this problem is to mimic human brain functioning in a dish with organoids. FirstbaseBIO is developing off-the-shelf brain organoids on which neurological diseases can be studied. This 3D platform will be formed by reprogrammed human cells from easily accessible sources, for example urine, skin, or mucosa. The proof of-concept brain organoids will be those from patients who are suffering from adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a rare, incurable brain disease that occurs primarily in young boys and is often fatal. With the brain organoid platform, possible medicinal treatments for ALD can be effectively optimised. FirstbaseBIO was nominated for the Venture Challenge 2021 for their development of human brain organoids to study neurological diseases.
03:3312 months ago
GUTS BV - small intestine-on-a-chip and advanced computational analysis for compound and protein screening
Innovation examples
HealthToxicologyIn vitro

GUTS BV - small intestine-on-a-chip and advanced computational analysis for compound and protein screening

GUTS BV is a contract research organization offering its 3-dimensional state-of-the-art small intestinal in vitro model in combination with custom computational analysis approaches. The small intestinal model was developed during Dr. Paul Jochems PhD research at Utrecht University in the group of Prof. Roos Masereeuw. In comparison to the current gold standard (Transwell model), they show improvement in cell differentiation (all major specialized cell types present), physiological structure (3D tube- and villi-like structures) and a functional epithelial barrier. After acquiring experimental data from this model computational analysis approaches are used to score and compare measured compounds for all tested biological parameters at once. The combined effort of improved in vitro modelling and data analysis is believed to result in an enhanced preclinical predictability. GUTS BV was nominated for the Venture Challenge 2021 for their development of an intestinal model combined with advanced computational analysis for protein and chemical compound screening. Research papers: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887233318307811 https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/9/2782/htm https://www.nature.com/articles/s41538-020-00082-z LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/71016128/
02:1112 months ago
Avatar Zoo - teaching animal anatomy using virtual reality
Innovation examples
EducationInnovation

Avatar Zoo - teaching animal anatomy using virtual reality

Animals are essential to train the next generation of scientists understand diseases and develop treatments for humans as well as animals. Therefore, animals are used for educational purposes. Technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can be employed to reduce the number of animals in the future. Prof. Dr. Daniela Salvatori is working on the development of 'Avatar Zoo' together with UMCU and IT. Live animals are replaced by holographic 3D in this flexible platform. With these holograms one is able to study the anatomical, physiological and pathological systems and processes of all kinds of animals. Avatar Zoo won the Venture Challenge 2021 for the development of virtual reality models that can be used for anatomy classes and practical training.
02:4012 months ago
Human neuronal cell models for in vitro neurotoxicity screening and seizure liability assessment
Innovation examples
ToxicologyInnovationIn vitro

Human neuronal cell models for in vitro neurotoxicity screening and seizure liability assessment

Anke Tukker was a PhD candidate in the Neurotoxicology Research group of Dr. Remco Westerink at the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences at Utrecht University. Dr Westerink’s research group investigates the mechanisms of action of toxic substances on a cellular and molecular level using in vitro systems. Anke's project aimed to develop a human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neuronal model for in vitro neurotoxicity screening and seizure liability assessment. Using micro-electrode arrays (MEAs), she showed that these models mimic in vivo neuronal network activity. When these hiPSC-derived neurons are mixed with hiPSC-derived astrocytes, they can be used for in vitro seizure liability assessment. Comparing these data with data obtained from the current used model of ex vivo rodent cortical cultures, she found that these human cells outperform the rodent model. Here research thus contributes towards animal-free neurotoxicity testing. Anke Tukker has won the public vote of the Hugo van Poelgeest prize 2020 for her research on human neuronal cell models for in vitro neurotoxicity screening and seizure liability assessment. Neurotoxicology Research Group, IRAS, Utrecht University: https://ntx.iras.uu.nl/NTXatIras
01:5813 months ago
Human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes for disease modelling and drug discovery
Innovation examples
ToxicologyInnovationIn vitro

Human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes for disease modelling and drug discovery

Berend van Meer did his PhD research in the research group of prof. Christine Mummery at the department of Anatomy and Embryology of the Leiden University Medical Center. In this group, human pluripotent stem cell derived (Organ-on-Chip) models are being developed, mostly cardiovascular models. The work of Berend aimed to understand how well these stem cell based cardiac models can predict the effect of (well-known) drug therapies in patients. Importantly, the outcomes of the experiments were compared to very similar measurements in rabbit heart muscle cells. And while animal models predicted less than 70% correctly, the human stem cell based models predicted almost 80% of the expected effects correctly. The research contributes to understanding the relevance of stem cell based models and strengthens the confidence regulators and pharmaceutical companies have in such models as animal alternatives in the drug development pipeline. Berend van Meer has won the Hugo van Poelgeest prize 2020 for his research on human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes for disease modelling and drug discovery. Christine Mummery's lab on Heart on Chip, Disease modeling and toxicity: https://www.lumc.nl/org/anatomie-embryologie/research/902040935402533/
01:5613 months ago
Cartilage-on-a-chip for studying joint degenerative diseases
Innovation examples
ToxicologyInnovationIn vitro

Cartilage-on-a-chip for studying joint degenerative diseases

Carlo Alberto Paggi is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Twente in the research group of Prof. Marcel Karperien and Prof. Séverine Le Gac. Karperien’s lab focus on the biological aspects of osteoarthritic research while Le Gac’s specialize in organ-on-chip development. The project of Carlo Alberto is developing a joint-on-chip platform to create a reliable in vitro model to study disease progression in osteo- or rheumatoid arthritis. The model combines different organ-on-chips aimed at replicating each a tissue around the joint such as cartilage, bone and ligaments. This new technology focuses on better reproducing human models and at substituting the use of animal models for drug research. If you want to know something more about the project and the groups, you can follow the link in the video. Carlo Paggi was nominated for the Hugo van Poelgeest prize for his research on a cartilage-on-a-chip model to study joint degenerative diseases Karperien’s lab of Developmental Bioengineering: https://www.utwente.nl/en/tnw/dbe/ Le Gac’s lab of Applied Microfluidics for BioEngineering Research: http://www.severinelegac.com/ Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlo-alberto-paggi-76500b135/
01:5813 months ago
Katja Wolthers (Amsterdam UMC) - virus research in human models: let's show some guts!
Innovation examples
HealthInnovation

Katja Wolthers (Amsterdam UMC) - virus research in human models: let's show some guts!

To study viruses that make people sick, we often use laboratory animals. However, virus infections in animals are different than in humans. New 3D culture models or 'organoids', which look like human organs in a petri dish, offer a unique opportunity to investigate how viruses enter the human body and cause disease. Our research focuses on enteroviruses such as polio. Due to vaccination, polio is rare, but other enteroviruses are increasingly a threat to young children and patients with impaired immune defenses. There are no medications available, because knowledge about infections with enteroviruses is limited. In our research we use organoids to see how enteroviruses enter the human body and by which means you can prevent that, without the use of laboratory animals. With this project we want to show that our technique can replace the use of laboratory animals in virus research.
02:3120 months ago