Establishing pancreas organoids for the therapy of T1D is an innovative process. Its accomplishment requires a critical mass of experts at the European level. Acknowledged experts from both academia and industry contribute their multidisciplinary expertise.
The consortium is trans-trandisciplinary and possesses the broad expertise in:
- Clinical Therapy of Diabetes
- Stem Cell Biology
- Three-dimensional Cell Cultures
- Biomimetic Hydrogel Synthesis
- GMP Production of Cellular Therapeutics
- Advanced Light Microscopy, High-throughput Screening, High-content Imaging
- Application of Biochemical Assays
Several consortium partners have already cooperated with each other and have long-standing common interests.
Light Sheet-based Fluorescence Microscopy
Overcoming the limitations of confocal fluorescence microscopy, we invented and developed light sheet-based fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) establishing it as a major tool in the modern life sciences.
A LSFM uses two independent, azimuthally arranged optical paths to excite the fluorophores in a specimen and to detect the fluorescence emission. The benefits of this tool are reduced out-of-focus blur and no photo-toxicity or photo-bleaching outside the illuminated volume.
Scientific manager of LSFM4LIFE. Development and application of the High-Throughput Light Sheet Microscope (HT-LSFM). High-throughput and high-content screening of human pancreas organoids.Role in LSFM4LIFE
Dr. Francesco Pampaloni graduated in Physical Chemistry at the University of Florence, Italy. Awarded with a Marie-Curie Fellowship of the European Union, he moved to the University of Regensburg (Germany), where in 2002 obtained his Ph.D. with excellence. Following a postdoctoral position at the Research Center Jülich, Germany, in 2003 he joined the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg as a post-doctoral research associate in the group of Ernst Stelzer. In 2009 he was appointed staff scientist at EMBL. Since 2010 he is staff scientist with permanent position at the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) of the Goethe University Frankfurt, Physical Biological Group, where he leads the research focus on three-dimensional cell biology.
Lotta Hof, Till Moreth, Sanam Saeifar
High throughput fluorescence imaging, assay development
Julia Tarnick, Max Brückner, Monica Dominguez, Calvin Krollman
Former team members
Marie Christine von Cosel
Finance & Administration
The Gurdon Institute is a world-renowned leading institution focused on promoting research in the areas of developmental and stem cell biology and cancer biology. Developmental and stem cell biology is concerned with how cells acquire and maintain their normal functions, and cancer is a result of cells escaping from these normal controls.
Research at the Gurdon Institute endeavours to extend our understanding of these processes through analysis of intracellular and intercellular activity at cellular and molecular levels. In recognition of the achievements in stem cell and developmental biology, researchers from the institute have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine: Sir Martin John Evans (Isolation of Embryonic Stem Cells, 2007) and Professor Sir John Gurdon (Cellular Reprogramming, 2012).
Establishment, production and analysis of pancreas organoid cultures. Optimization of their differentiation protocol. Transfer of technology to other partners to test phenotype and function of organoids and to scale up organoid production.Role in LSFM4LIFE
Dr. Meritxell Huch is a group leader at the
Gurdon Institute and an affiliated group leader at the MRC/WT Cambridge Stem Cell Institute. She obtained her PhD degree in 2007 at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, Spain. In 2008 she
moved to the Netherlands to study adult stem cell biology. Since 2008-2014 she has been working on adult stem cells of several gastrointestinal organs, including the liver, pancreas and stomach. Then she moved her research focus to the study of liver and pancreas progenitors during tissue
regeneration and the establishment of culture systems. In 2014 she joined the Gurdon Institute, where she continues her research on stem cells and tissue regeneration. By now, she has published more than 25 papers and, in collaboration with her post-doctoral lab, she has been granted 3 patents that secure the intellectual property of the organoid technology.
(shared with Kourosh Saeb-Parsy)
Former team members
Dr. Chris Hindley
3D in vitro microtissues for drug testing
Functional screening of microtissues
Standardised islet microtissues
InSphero 3D Insight™ Microtissues enable more biologically relevant in vitro applications in efficacy and toxicology, including long-term and inflammation-mediated toxicity testing. They are more predictive, last longer and are more affordable than conventional cell-based models.
Moreover, the recently launched standardized islet microtissues (from human and rat origin) have become an attractive tool for numerous customers in the pharmaceutical industry as they satisfy the requirements for applications in diabetes research and drug safety safety assessment, i.e. a high degree of standardization, readily available and quality controlled and long term in vitro performance.
InSphero has been recognised for its scientific and commercial achievements with a number of national and international awards and is also certified to the ISO 9001:2008 standard for its Quality Management System.
Standardization of pancreatic organoid culture for expansion and differentiation. Functional assessment of pancreatic organoids and bench marking with human islet microtissues.Role in LSFM4LIFE
Dr. Wolfgang Moritz is co-founder and Head of R&D at InSphero AG with focus on early product development and applications. He has an extensive background in cell culture, tissue engineering, liver & pancreatic islet research and assay development. Graduated in biochemistry at the University of Zurich in 1991, he started as a doctoral fellow at the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University Hospital Zurich. He performed research as a postdoc in the diabetes area with a focus on beta-cell physiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School (Prof. J. Habener). After that he became a group leader at the Department of Surgical Research focusing on research topics related to islet transplantation and liver surgery.
The company specializes in the development of biomimetic hydrogel systems for three-dimensional cell culture with expertise in:
- chemical modification and purification of proteins and polymers as components for hydrogels for 3D cell culture systems,
- design of peptides as bio factors for controlling cellular phenotype in 3D cell culture systems,
- development of 3D cell-based assays.
Furthermore, Cellendes has expertise in chemical, biochemical, as well as molecular biology assays.
Cellendes manufactures and commercializes hydrogels for 3D cell culture since 2010. Its hydrogel technology offers an extraordinarily high flexibility in gel composition and manipulation of physical gel properties. It comprises synthetic or chemically defined components suitable for the development of therapeutic products. Cellendes’ hydrogel technology is protected by two patents.
Design of chemically defined hydrogel for optimal organoid growth and expansion.Role in LSFM4LIFE
Dr. Brigitte Angres is a cell biologist with special expertise in cell adhesion and developmental biology. She has 19 years of national and international professional experience in research and industrial product development including studies of mechanisms of cell-cell and cell-substrate adhesion of epithelial cells and the development of reagents for the life science market. In 2009 she co-founded Cellendes GmbH with Dr. Helmut Wurst and since directs application and design of Cellendes hydrogels, as well as marketing and business development.
Modification of hydrogel
Former team members
Master student and research staff member
Development of hydrogels and protocols for organoid culture
Research staff member
Testing hydrogels for organoid culture
Testing hydrogels for organoid culture
Cellular therapies and regenerative medicine
Industrial expertise in support of phase I-III clinical trials
Since 2006 (first GMP license granted) the company gained an extensive track record in the development and management of biomanufacturing processes in cell therapy field. Next to clinical trials manufacturing, it was also the manufacturer of two (out of four) EMA-approved cell therapy products for the European market.
It was the only CMO worldwide to manufacture two cell therapies with approved market authorization. It had over the years prepared clinical material for 15+ preclinical and clinical studies (Phase I to Phase III) significantly contributing to the translation of ATMP from bench to bedside. It has also been selected for the commercial production of the first authorized cell-based regenerative product (ChondroCelect, by Tigenix) and the first cell-based cancer vaccine in the EU (Provenge, by Dendreon).
Development of a strategy for the translation of the human pancreatic organoid production to a compliant GMP process focusing on sustainable later clinical and commercial phases.Role in the project
Dr. Bart van Dijk is a scientist in the process development department, which focuses on development and GMP translation of advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs). He drives the international R&D consortia Lonza Netherlands is involved in, with a focus on improving GMP aspects of processes and QC assays, to translate new technologies from the bench to the bedside. He has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands). He has eight years of experience in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine in the orthopedic field, focusing on designing and validating bioreactors, and testing regenerative therapies in in vitro and ex vivo models.
Former team members
Dr. Nasser Sadr
Dr. Chiara Tamiello
A scientific approach is also used to foster the organization and management of health services, not only in the frame of the Foundation but also in the broader health care system run by the Italian Ministry of Health and the Lombardy Region Health Department.
The Unit of Cell Therapy and Cryobiology is active in both basic biomedical and applied clinical research. In 2007, the Cell Factory was certified by the Italian Drug Agency (Agenzia Italiana del Farmaco – AIFA) in compliance with European GMP regulations. Therefore, this partner leads a state-of-the-art cell culture facility equipped to conduct pre-clinical studies and to produce cell therapy products according to GMP guidelines.
Study and evaluation of how to transform all the research process of organoid production into a clinical cell product for future therapeutic purposes.Role in the project
Dr. Lorenza Lazzari is the R&D director of the Cell Factory, a unit dedicated to basic research and to GMP cell therapy protocols in the field of stem cells, where she coordinates and supervises all the experimental work. She is a reviewer for several international scientific journals and she is principal investigator in a number of national and international research programs and consortia related to basic and clinical research on stem cells. Her main field includes hematopoietic and non-hematopoietic stem cells from cord blood, umbilical cord, adult human bone marrow, adipose tissue, peripheral blood, teeth, amniotic fluid and villi for research and clinical applications.
Project manager for the GMP translation of hPO
Dr. Alessandro Cherubini
Responsible for all the molecular aspects of hPO
Co-worker in the GMP translation of hPO
Co-worker at the molecular facility
Other team member
Dr. Mario Barilani
Responsible for the flow cytometry facility
Former team members
University surgeons, in parallel with directing programmes of research, play an important role in the development and delivery of specialist surgical services. Similarly, many NHS surgeons are, in addition to their clinical responsibilities, undertaking high-quality clinical research supported through close collaboration with university colleagues.
In contrast with the trend in many other UK universities, academic surgery in Cambridge is flourishing and the department continues to expand. The principal research interests are transplantation, stem cell medicine, surgical oncology and orthopaedic surgery. In addition, clinical research of international importance is being led by NHS surgical colleagues across a range of surgical disciplines.
Provision of pancreas tissue from deceased human organs for generation of organoids. Investigation of their in vivo functional efficacy, stability and safety. Clinical input into market-analysis.Role in LSFM4LIFE
Dr. Kourosh Saeb-Parsy is a university lecturer and consultant transplant surgeon at the University of Cambridge. His multidisciplinary laboratory research interests are focused on the function and immunogenicity of regenerative cellular therapies for diabetes and liver disease, as well as the mechanisms underlying transplant ischaemia reperfusion injury and its therapeutic amelioration. His clinical research is directed towards identification of donor and recipient factors that affect graft and patient outcomes after kidney, pancreas and liver transplantation, as well as medico-legal consideration and decision making in transplantation.
Managing communication and dissemination actions to maximize project impact and handling internal communication.Role in LSFM4LIFE
Dr. Steffen Lindek studied physics and did his diploma and PhD theses at EMBL, where he worked on high-resolution fluorescence microscopy techniques. Thereafter, he spent three years on the design and the implementation of a database for microscopy images. Since 2000, he has been working as a freelance consultant with a wide spectrum of topics: microscopy, databases, metadata, media, rights, patent and grant applications etc. He often acted as a mediator at the interface between science or business and IT, covering data-related aspects of projects ranging from biomedical research to business process analysis in the media industry. Since 2016, he has been working as Cooperating Consultant with ProSciencia on several grant applications for EU and national funding.