Together with six partners, The Eindhoven University of Technology will develop a nervous-system-on-a-chip. This will enable medicines to be tested accurately and will eliminate the need to test on animals. The project is supported by the EU with a grant of almost 7 million euros.
With the nervous-system-on-a-chip (NoC), new drugs against Parkinson’s disease can be tested. For example by investigating the transport of specific proteins that travel through the nervous system, which are associated with Parkinson’s disease.
The partners in the research group called CONNECT all contribute differently. This allows the University of Luxembourg to grow cells in a specific form, which are able to mimic specific human brain cells well. The University of Sheffield is mainly concerned with the biological development of the relevant type of nerve cells. KU Leuven has experts in the optical analysis of nerve cells and Erasmus MC is an expert in an electrophysiological analysis. AALTO University helps with the choice of materials and electrodes for the NoC while the Oxford Parkinson Disease Center has a bio-bank with cells from Parkinson’s patients for testing. The TU/e researchers bring all of these aspects together, through the design and realization of the NoC.
During the first experiments, the cells will be specially cultivated, but in the future, cells from Parkinson’s patients could become available. If all these experiments are successful, it will open the door to personalized medication, so patients will have to take ineffective drugs much less often. The development of new medicines can also be drastically accelerated. This is desperately needed, given that an average drug has a development time of 10 to 12 years and costs about 1.6 billion euros.