Under the leadership of Ellen van den Bogaard and colleagues of theme Inflammatory diseases, a large consortium is setting up a platform in which materials and technologies will be developed to stimulate research with so-called skin organoids, small pieces of cultured skin. The goal of this is to research the effect of these organoids on the skin and skin diseases. Also drugs can be tested in these organoids. For this purpose the researchers receive a grant of 967K euro from Health Holland.
A well functioning skin plays a very important role in our health. Unfortunately, many people suffer from skin diseases. In the Netherlands alone there are more than 2 million patients with serious chronic inflammatory skin diseases, such as psoriasis and atopic eczema. People’s skin models offer many opportunities for research into skin function, skin diseases and drug testing. They are scientifically and ethically indispensable. However, the application of these skin models in fundamental science lags behind, because the standardized, commercially available skin models often turn out to be unsuitable for specific issues and research budgets are not sufficient for the large-scale use of these precious human measurement models.
That is why researchers from four Dutch experimental dermatology laboratories are setting up a new platform in this project: “Platform for alternative skin models for sustainable future science”, or PAST4FUTURE for short. The platform aims to generate general, versatile and sustainable materials and technologies and make them accessible to everyone. Robust protocols should lead to reproducible results that will be tested within the project in the four separate laboratories.
DNA research using CRISPR Cas9
Principal investigator Ellen van den Bogaard explains: “We are going to make universal cells from inexhaustible sources (stem cells and immortal cell lines) in which, with the help of the powerful CRISPR Cas9 technology, we can process the hereditary material and study its effects in the tissue itself. For this new technology, international researchers received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020.
Ellen van den Bogaard continues: “This very first nationwide collaboration of experts in experimental dermatology and the contribution of major industrial partners will enable us to make these technologies available more quickly to both academic science and industry. This will make us less dependent on patients and experimental animals”.
The Platform for Alternative Skin Tests for sustainable Future science (PAST4FUTURE) is a consortium led by the Radboudumc. This project is carried out together with Huiqing (Jo) Zhou of the department for Molecular Developmental Biology (FNWI-RU) and external partners: VU University Medical Center, Leiden University Medical Center, Association of Cooperating Burns Centers in the Netherlands, CELLnTEC Advanced Cell Systems AG and TropIQ Health Sciences.