4 October 2017

Intensified collaboration on micro imaging, biofabrication and bioartifical organs

Researchers of Utrecht and Twente join forces

Introducing technology into innovative, highly personalized patient care: that is the purpose of the intensified cooperation of the UMC Utrecht (Regenerative Medicine), Utrecht University (Veterinary Medicine) and the University of Twente (MIRA Institute).

Personalized healthcare may imply new forms of highly individual cancer treatments, based on diagnostics at the level of a single cell. It may imply: repair of damaged tissue like bone or cartilage, using 3D printing techniques. Or it may imply: wearable artificial organs that come close to the natural processes in the body. Micro imaging, biofabrication and bioartifical organs are the three domains chosen by UMC Utrecht, UU and UT’s MIRA Institute for intensified collaboration. The three areas are mutually reinforcing, and they are high on the agenda of European research programmes like Horizon 2020.

Imaging the single tumor cell

Using imaging technique at the level of a single cell, or smaller, it is possible to look at that single circulating tumor cell (CTC) that can cause metastasis. Knowing more about this cell, we can also test adequate and targeted therapy. Micro imaging is the project of Dr Hugo Snippert (UMC Utrecht) and Prof Leon Terstappen (UT).

3D printed tissue

Will it be possible to repair human tissue that is damaged or worn, by 3D printing a new piece of tissue made of the patient’s own cells? Or can we create a miniature joint on a chip, to do research on arthrosis without the need of animal tests? Biofabrication is the project of Prof Jos Malda (UU, UMC Utrecht), Prof Renee van Weeren (UMC Utrecht) and Prof Marcel Karperien (UT).

Bioartifical organs

A wearable artificial kidney is within reach. Thanks to bio manufacturing, we will be able to turn ‘artificial’ in ‘bio-artificial’ and come closer to the processes happening inside the body of the individual. For monitoring the blood purification properties of the organ, micro imaging will be used. This is the project of Prof Dimitrios Stamatialis (UT) and Prof Marianne Verhaar (UU, UMC Utrecht)

The contracts for the new collaboration of UMC Utrecht, UU and UT were signed during a kick off meeting, by Frank Miedema (Vice President UMC Utrecht), Prof Wouter Dhert (Dean Veterinary Medicine UU) and UT’s rector Thom Palstra, on October 4. Representants of Dutch Cancer Society, Dutch Kidney Foundation and Dutch Arthritis Association joined in a panel discussion on future healthcare developments.