Researchers from the James Watt School of Engineering are part of a consortium which has won €4.95M (£4.32M) in funding from the European Innovation Council to support a cutting-edge bioengineering project.
The interdisciplinary consortium, named Supervised Morphogenesis in Gastruloids or SUMO, is one of 39 new projects sharing in €145M (£126.6M) from the EIC’s Pathfinder programme. The funded projects are the first of Pathfinder projects selected under the EIC challenges call.
The Pathfinder programme supports the early-stage development of future technologies up to the proof-of-concept stage over the course of five years.
SUMO is led by researchers from University Hospital Oslo, Norway.
Professor Nikolaj Gadegaard is leading the University of Glasgow team.
SUMO aims to challenge the current limitations for realistic in vitro organ models by building on state-of-the-art gastruloid technology.
Gastruloids are multi-tissue embryonic organoids that can recapitulate mammalian developmental processes, including early organogenesis, in a dish.
They harbour great promise for both fundamental and applied science for their ability to model organ primordia in the framework of their native three-dimensional context.
To fully harness the potential of gastruloid technology, the SUMO consortium will tackle current bottlenecks regarding gastruloid reproducibility, tissue organization and physiology using cutting edge technology including Raman imaging, artificial intelligence and bioengineering.
Specifically, the consortium aims to achieve reproducible and scalable formation of gastruloids with embryo-like morphology that enter advanced organogenesis stages, focusing on cardiac and gut development.
Professor Gadegaard’s contribution to SUMO will focus on bioengineering and the implementation of artificial intelligence. He said: “It is fantastic to be part of a strong European consortium like SUMO, which has the potential to underpin new advances in organ engineering.
“Our connection and collaboration with international partners is vital to deliver to our research at the highest level, and I’m proud to be working with leading researchers with such a wide range of expertise.”
The SUMO consortium enters a portfolio of seven consortia that are funded within the “Engineered Living Materials” EIC challenge.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth at the European Innovation Council, said, “Congratulations to all projects selected under the first EIC Pathfinder Challenges call. With the support of EIC Program Managers, they will progress together towards common goals and create new opportunities for radical innovation. With the new mechanisms under the EIC, we have the means to support the whole value chain and to transform these innovative technologies into successful companies in Europe.”
The SUMO consortium unites researchers from the University Hospital Oslo, Norway (Stefan Krauss, coordinator), Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) (Jesse Veenvliet), Imperial College London, UK (Molly Stevens), University of Glasgow, UK (Nikolaj Gadegaard), Tel Aviv University, Israel (Iftach Nachman), Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), Germany (Jens von Kries) and University of Oslo (Jan Helge Solbakk).