hDMT INFRA: infrastructure to bring human organ and disease models closer to application
Driven by the success of the hDMT (Institute for human organ and Disease Model Technologies) consortium, the new not-for-profit infrastructure, hDMT INFRA, is making microphysiological systems (MPS) technology available to users, and ready for (end-) user applications. This will facilitate and boost the adoption and implementation of real-world applications of MPS-based models. Catalyze supported hDMT INFRA with the development of a business plan and funding strategy for the infrastructure. We spoke with Dr. Janny van den Eijnden-van Raaij, Managing Director of hDMT, about the infrastructure and collaboration with Catalyze.
hDMT INFRA: enabling access to MPS technology
hDMT is a not-for-profit foundation that functions as coordinator of researchers and research activities of the hDMT consortium, and as a supporting advocacy and lobbying partner. As an important project within hDMT, hDMT INFRA is now being set up as a unique, first-of-its-kind, not-for-profit infrastructure of Dutch Service Centers of Expertise (SCEs), providing supporting services to researchers, end users and other stakeholders in the MPS field, to ultimately facilitate the development and implementation of MPS-based models in practice.
Janny explains, “Building on the experience of hDMT, and taking into account the developments of the MPS field in the last years, a clear need has become eminent to make these technologies available to (end)users.
“With hDMT INFRA, we are enabling more stakeholders to gain access to the MPS technology, while the SCEs – made up of hDMT consortium partners – can exploit their knowledge and facilities. Importantly, we are making the SCEs self-sustainable.”
hDMT INFRA: Service Centers of Expertise
Each SCE has core technology expertise, knowledge and facilities for specific areas of MPS research. hDMT INFRA will support the SCEs through creating awareness about their existence, facilitating their operations, and stimulating collaborations between SCEs.
In addition, hDMT INFRA helps customers, also from outside the consortium (e.g. researchers, clinicians, industry) to access the services of the appropriate SCEs. These services include access to an MPS toolbox, state-of-the-art facilities, training courses, and tailored services, such as development of MPS designs and protocols. In the future this will also include testing and qualification of MPS-based models.
Janny adds, “We want the knowledge and expertise we have developed in the hDMT consortium to become more available for those who would like to use it. We also want to enable the next generation to be trained in this technology. And in the future we want to function as an independent testing and qualification center for MPS devices, to ensure the reproducibility and define the context of use for a particular model. With hDMT INFRA we can achieve these goals.”
Dr. Janny van den Eijnden-van Raaij, Managing Director of hDMT.
Developing the hDMT INFRA business plan with Catalyze
To set-up hDMT INFRA, hDMT needed a clear plan that would form the basis for the realization of this infrastructure, finding the necessary funding, and for working towards self-sustainability. Catalyze and hDMT partnered together in the development of a business plan for hDMT INFRA.
Janny describes the collaboration:
“What I like about Catalyze’s way of working is the synergistic mutual collaboration. The Catalyze consultants guided us through this process step-by-step and continuously asked us for critical feedback and additional input. At the end of this iterative process, they delivered a comprehensive business plan.
“This way of working was important to us. I very much liked the interaction and structured approach. We really learned a lot from this process and from the discussions with Catalyze, and I think Catalyze did too.”
Additional Funding Strategy
In addition to the business plan, Catalyze’s Strategic Funding Unit provided hDMT with a funding strategy for the new infrastructure.
Janny explains, “The funding options we received gave us a very good basis to apply for funding from the most appropriate sources, both for the short and long term. It was very helpful having this information from Catalyze. Together with the business plan, we have now everything in place and already have taken the first steps in the process of setting up hDMT INFRA.”
What is MPS technology?
MPS-based models comprise organ models and disease models. The term MPS-based organ model or Organ-on-Chip stands for a fit-for-purpose microfluidic device containing living engineered organ substructures (functional unit(s)) in a controlled microenvironment, which recapitulate one or more aspects of the organ’s dynamics, functionality and (patho)-physiological responses in vivo under real-time monitoring. Organoid-on-Chip, Spheroid-on-Chip and Tissue Chip are subsets of the term Organ-on-Chip specifying that the organ model is an organoid, a spheroid or a tissue, respectively.