(Bio)Artificial Organs


In the coming years, due to the aging of the population and the low availability of donor organs there will be urgent need for bioengineering solutions to assist, mimic or replace failing patient organs. This chair has the ambition, to take-on the challenge of helping the patients by developing (bio) artificial organs. These organs would be:

  1. Artificial: based on new biomaterials and novel designs, to assist or mimic a patient organ. Typical examples here are: (i) new generation of artificial kidney devices for better and more continuous patient treatment – including portable kidney devices (ii) new artificial liver devices for blood detoxification using novel sorbents.
  2. Bioartificial: combining biomaterials and biological cells to fully replace failing patient organs. Typical examples here are: (i) bioartificial kidney devices, combining biomaterials and kidney epithelial cells for improved blood detoxification (ii) bioartificial pancreas devices, combining encapsulation of pancreatic cells for treatment of diabetes (iii) development of a bioartificial lungs for studying lung regeneration.

In this field of research, the challenges (scientific and technological) are big. There is need for new biomaterials, need for better understanding and tailoring of the biomaterial – cell / tissue interaction, better immune protection and mass transfer, as well as, development of new concepts and designs. The complexity increases from artificial to bioartificial organs, and the engineering and regulatory demands increase further if these organs would be extracorporeal or implantable.

The chair of (bio) artificial organs addresses several of these challenges by developing an innovative research program, which combines a wide spectrum of disciplines: from molecule to organ.

disciplines within (bio)artificial organs

Illustration of the disciplines within the chair of (Bio)artificial organs.

Research projects 

Soft membranes for cardiomyocyte growth and drug screening 

(Post doc: Iris Allijn)

Cardiomyocytes mature and grow best on soft substrates, mimicking cardiac tissue’s mechanical properties. The aim is to develop a soft polymeric membrane for proper cardiomyocyte growth and drug screening in a high throughput application. This project is in collaboration with the department of Applied Stem Cell Technologies of the University of Twente. The work is funded by the ZonMW MKMD program (2017-2019).

Dual layered mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) for removing protein bound uremic toxins

(Post doc: DooLi Kim)

Current hemodialysis therapy removes small and non-protein bound toxins, but has limits in the removal of middle sized and protein-bound uremic toxins (PBUTs). This project aims to develop dual layered MMMs for improving the removal of PBUTs and improved hemocompatibility. This project is funded by Health-Holland entitled as ‘NOVAMEM’ (2017-2020) and is carried out in close collaboration with Radboud UMC, UMC Utrecht, and industrial partners.

Development of nanoporous materials for blood purification

(PhD student: Ilaria Geremia)

Using membrane technologies that combine diffusion and adsorption, we focus mainly on the removal of uremic waste products and contaminant endotoxins from the dialysis fluid. The purification of the dialysate is an important step on the way toward the development of portable and wearable artificial kidney and for a safe hemodialysis procedure. The project is part of the EU Marie Curie Innovative training network (ITN) entitled “TheLink” (2014-2018).

Development of bioartificial kidney device

(Postdoc: Silvia Mihaila)

'Living membranes' of renal epithelial cells on biofunctionalized membranes (the ‘bioartificial kidney’ (BAK)) have been shown to improve the removal of protein-bound toxin, representing a great leap forward for dialysis patients. Currently, we are focused on upscaling and testing of the BAK system, including in vitro evaluation of long-term function (maintenance of functional cationic and anionic toxin transport) and stability, and subsequently in vivo validation of efficacy and tolerability in a hemodialysis model in rats. The project is a collaboration between UTwente, UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University.

Biocompatible, microstructured membranes for lungs-on-chips

(PhD student: Thijs Pasman)

Lungs-on-chips have greatly improved in vitro studies for lung research by mimicking the lung alveoli. In this project, we develop membranes using a flexible and biocompatible material with 3D structure mimicking the alveoli The project is part of a consortium: “Micro engineered 3D analogues of alveolar tissue for lung regeneration” and funded by the Dutch Lung Foundation (project: (2015-2018)

Co-culture of microflora on enterocytes in the complex host intestine physiology

(Post doc: Katarzyna Skrzypek)

The project aims to develop membrane based 3D villi-like colon cell culture system that mimics the complex physical and physiological properties of colon and allows functional testing of Mg2+ absorption. Flexible and elastic biomaterials are used for the fabrication of membranes with 3D villi-like surface topography to examine cell differentiation, viability and functional transport in colonic enterocyte culture system. This multidisciplinary project is performed in collaboration with Radboud UMC within Twente University Radboudumc Opportunities (TURBO) grant.

New methods for blood detoxification - KidneyPort

(PhD student: Odyl ter Beek)

We develop hollow fiber and modules based on new hydrogel biomaterials, known as SlipSkinTM. Doping of the biomaterial with an anticoagulant agent or with a platelet inhibitor is also investigated to further improve blood compatibility. The project is funded by the Life Science and Health Impulse program (2014-2018).

For more information, please contact:
Prof. Dr. Dimitrios Stamatialis
ZH 242, Tel: +31 (0)534894675 or +31 (0)53 4892968