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Being able to generate human tissue in vitro in a dish is expected to revolutionise biomedical research. European researchers generated brain organoids to study the mechanisms of various neurological disorders and discover novel drugs to treat them.
CRISPR is a widely used molecular biology tool exploiting an immune process discovered in bacteria. Dr David Bikard studies CRISPR in bacterial cells, in conjunction with different DNA repair systems, to create even newer tools. He hopes to gain insight into bacterial genetics, and develop increasingly effective medical treatments.
Originally from Gijón (Spain), Prof. Eva Hevia is Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow (UK). First an Erasmus student, then a recipient of both Marie Skłodowska-Curie and ERC grants, she believes that each of these three EU funding schemes has represented a milestone at different stages of her career and has paved the future of her research.
Epithelial tissues cover all body surfaces and line most of our organs, internal cavities and passageways, including the digestive tract. Prof. Elena Martínez is engineering intestinal epithelial tissues that mimic the physiological characteristics of human intestinal tissue with the aim of advancing the in vitro modelling of diseases, the preclinical screening for drug efficacy and toxicity, and the understanding of organ development.
Nature is a major source of inspiration for scientists. ERC grantee Giulia Lanzara is one of them. The unique sensing and shaping abilities of birds, dolphins and other living creatures inspired her to engineer novel multifunctional materials which could make a difference in a wide variety of industrial fields.
Originally published in May 2015
Updated in July 2018
With an aging population, Europe sees a rapid increase in the number of people affected by visual disorders requiring surgical intervention. Building on the recent advances in robotic assistance in surgery as well as in precisely targeted drug delivery therapies, Prof. Bradley Nelson has designed innovative microrobotics tools to overcome the particular difficulty of manual-performed eye surgery.
In the highlands of Asia, an area spanning the mountain regions between the Pamirs and the eastern Himalayas, livelihoods are shaped as much by remoteness as by connectivity. With ERC funding, Dr Martin Saxer intends to shed new light on these areas at the edge of nation-states yet in the centre of geopolitical concerns.
Toxicology and pharmacology assays are currently carried out in cell lines or experimental animals. Scientists of the TOXANOID project developed mini organs in a dish, which outperform existing in vitro systems.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths. European researchers developed novel ex vivo three-dimensional organoid cultures that replicate genetic events in CRC, as tools to test novel therapeutics.
Cell transplantation is a promising new approach for organ regeneration in disease or after injury. To support the differentiation of hepatocytes from stem cells, European researchers developed ex vivo organoids which precisely mimic liver architecture.