Since December 1, 2018, Fraunhofer IGB is coordinating the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network EUROoC. This involves setting up a European research network to promote organ-on-a-chip technology. This technology allows the small-scale reproduction of human organs. It is viewed as an alternative to animal experiments in the future and as a technology with high potential, including for research into new pharmaceutical active ingredients and personalized medicine.
The development of organ-on-a-chip technology requires multidisciplinary skills and the EUROoC network is therefore focusing, in particular, on the interdisciplinary training and further education of 15 scientists. The eleven primary contract partners include nine participants from the academic sector, one medium-sized company and a federal agency in the field of health-related consumer protection. In addition, the network incorporates ten partner organizations, of which three are academic institutions, five are from the industrial sector and two further organizations are regulatory authorities in the field of human medicines.
EUROoC furthermore comprises a collection of innovative research projects addressing the development of advanced OoC systems with higher physiological significance going beyond current in vitro testing. The EUROoC project will create advanced OoCs, which closely recapitulate properties of the respective organ tissues in vivo regarding cell types, microenvironment, organ-specific tissue structure and function as well as concepts for the interconnection of individual OoCs. The various OoC models to be developed comprise heart-on-a-chip, bone-on-a-chip, retina-on-a-chip, lung-on-a-chip, adipose- on-a-chip, gut-on-a-chip to liver-on-a-chip. The OoC systems will be able to monitor and analyse tissue functionality and response in situ by integrating various novel sensing elements. The OoCs developed will be pre-validated with the regulatory partners through in vitro-in vivo correlations. The research and training program planned will increase European competitiveness sustainably in this emerging key technology.