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TURBO grants for four medical-technical research projects

Four TURBO grants were last Tuesday awarded to researchers of the University of Twente (TechMed Centre) and RadboudUMC for innovative research on medical technology. The grants will enable the researchers to jointly develop their innovative idea and pursue follow-up funding.

The four research projects approved are:

Microgel technology to control osteoclast formation and function (microCLAST)

Jeroen Leijten (UT) and Jeroen van den Beucken (Radboudumc)

Our bones are constantly formed and broken down in processes known as ‘bone formation’ and ‘bone resorption’. The health and regeneration of our bones rely on the balance between these two processes. Osteoclasts, a type of bone cells, are known for their role in bone resorption, but recent findings indicate that they also appear to play a role in bone formation. In the microCLAST project, Jeroen Leijten (UT) and Jeroen van den Beucken (Radboudumc) will develop a method for generating osteoclasts by combining microfluidics with cell biology. The project will eventually provide a toolbox for the development of in vitro bone models and constructs for bone regeneration. In addition, this toolbox will be instrumental to unravel the function of osteoclasts in healthy and pathological bone and to investigate whether we can use osteoclasts for bone regeneration therapy with a patient's own cells. 

Organise your health innovations

Erik Koffijberg (UT) and Janneke Grutters (Radboudumc) 

Every year, many new health innovations are developed in the Netherlands and worldwide. But even those proven to be cost-effective are often not implemented successfully due to organisational aspects (e.g. available personnel, logistics, and financial considerations). With this project, Erik Koffijberg (UT) and Janneke Grutters (Radboudumc) will investigate five health innovations, covering a wide range of technologies, to see the role and impact of organisational aspects is on the adoption and implementation of health innovations. Next to this, they will also explore how addressing the different organizational aspects can increase the benefits of the innovations in clinical practice. The study will therefore provide a concrete support framework for assessing health innovations and how they can best be utilised in a healthcare setting. 

Growing bone-on-chip

Pascal Jonkheijm (UT) and Nico Sommerdijk (Radboudumc)

Organ-on-chip and organoids (or ‘mini-organs’) are promising models for investigating physiological and pathological processes in tissue. In bone research, however, the development of these models is lagging behind. With this TURBO project, Pascal Jonkheijm (UT) and Nico Sommerdijk (Radboudumc) aim to change that. The aim is to examine the healthy bone formation, specifically the role of stem cells in bone structure and organisation. With this in mind, they will develop an organoid-on-chip model to study patient-specific mechanisms of genetic bone disorders. It will also enable the effects of potential therapies to be studied. This project combines the University of Twente’s knowledge of organ-on-chip development with Radboud University Medical Center’s expertise in live-imaging technology. 

A translational pipeline to better understand blood-brain barrier defects in autism and beyond – from Drosophila to the BBB on-chip (TurBBBo)

Loes Segerink (UT) and Annette Schenck (Radboudumc) 

Almost three percent of children in the Netherlands have autism or a related disorder. The precise causes are still not entirely clear. Recent research on fruit flies to examine the genetic risk factor for autism suggests that the blood-brain barrier plays a central role in the etiology of sleep disturbances, and in other features widely present in autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. As research on patients would be too invasive, Loes Segerink (UT), Kerensa Broersen (UT) and Annette Schenck (Radboudumc) are adopting a different approach. They aim to develop an organ-on-chip model of the blood-brain barrier to simulate the human disease and gain a deeper understanding of autism pathology and the physiological regulation of sleep.

Best pitch

Next to the four TURBO grants, Jakub Sikorski (UT) and Michiel Warlé (Radboudumc) won the prize for the best pitch for their project “ICECReAM: Infrastructure for Cardiovascular trEatment using Clinically-Relevant Applied Microrobotics”. This project investigates how challenges associated with the minimally-invasive treatment of vascular diseases can be overcome using robotic instruments, thereby enabling surgical protocols, which are safer and more effective than the current state-of-the-art. 

About TURBO

The TURBO program started in 2017 and is an acronym for 'Twente University Radboudumc Opportunities.' It ties in with the TOPFIT program, which gives further effect to the ‘Concepts for a Healthy Life' innovation profile of the East region in the Netherlands. The purpose of a TURBO grant is to prepare a project for acquiring larger, external funding, such as those provided by national and European funds and companies that are active in the field of health care and technology.

drs. M.M.J. van Hillegersberg - Hofmans (Martine)
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