Today, the European Research Council has announced an ERC Proof of Concept grant for UT professor Albert van den Berg. This top-up funding is awarded to ERC grantees to explore the innovation potential of their scientific discoveries and bring the results of their frontier research closer to market. Albert and his team will be using the European financial contribution for furthering standardisation in organ-on-chip infrastructure.
Organ-on-chips are believed to revolutionise the way we develop drugs or select personalised therapies. Recapitulating human response both from healthy and diseased individuals potentially even enables ‘clinical trials in-a-dish’. While research in this field is thriving and commercial start-ups have been founded, adoption from end users is staying behind for a number of reasons: lack of standardisation makes chips incompatible, lack of automation limits the throughput and user-friendliness of the systems and there is limited support for sensor integration.
The Translational Organ-on-Chip Platform (TOP) is designed to overcome these hurdles and has been developed for internal use during the ERC project VESCEL. The research will work on a robust interconnect, validate and identify difficulties in making a third party chip TOPcompatible, validate the use of TOP for biological experiments and finally determine the commercialisation strategy for TOP.
Albert van den Berg: “We believe TOP can help more end users to adopt organ-on-chip as a technology in their lab because in contrast to current setups, the open technology of TOP supports chips from third parties are inter compatible, multiplexable and controlled automatically. TOP will be the standardised Organ-on-chip infrastructure allowing users to stop worrying about control systems and only focus on chips and biology.”
Proof of Concept grants, worth €150,000 each, aim to help researchers who are currently conducting or have recently conducted ERC funded research, to explore the commercial or societal potential of their ERC funded work. The grants can be used in various ways, for example to explore business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts. In this round, seventy-six top researchers from all over Europe will receive an ERC Proof of Concept grant.