2020/07/01 | Grants & Awards | In-vitro & Organs-on-Chip

ARTORG receives 3RCC Grant

Three out of four project grants by the Swiss Competence Center dedicated to the 3R principles Replace, Reduce, Refine go to the University of Bern this year. One of the grantees is Olivier Guenat, Head of the Organs-on-Chip Technologies group at ARTORG (left). Together with Thomas Geiser from the Inselspital Department of Pneumology Guenat proposes to develop a new model to study idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a fatal lung disease that results in the scarring of the lungs, to replace the so far prevalent but flawed bleomycin-induced lung-injury and lung fibrosis model. Two other projects by Christiane Albrecht and Marianna Kruithof-de Julio are likewise funded.

Olivier Guenat and Thomas Geiser grow human lung cells in a new generation of in vitro models, called organs-on-chip. They plan to develop a new model for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a fatal lung disease that results in the scarring of the lungs. In the standard model to study lung fibrosis inflammation and fibrosis is triggered in the lungs of mice. But many promising drug candidates successfully tested in these preclinical models have failed when tested in humans.

"The two species vary widely in their physiology and in their response to pulmonary drugs," explains Guenat. "In humans, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive disease, whereas in mice it is chemically induced and reversible. So, we cannot easily transfer test results from one to another."

Immunostaining of patient cells cultured on a second-generation lung-on-chip. The 250um hexagons mimic an array of alveoli. ©Pauline Zamprogno, ARTORG Center


ARTORG's lung-on-chip technology uses patient cells cultivated on a microchip to generate relevant clinical information about the fibrotic process. This will allow researchers and clinicians to test experimental drugs and optimize existing treatments in a more patient-relevant and personalized way. "Our research contributes to advancing non-animal models and at the same time to providing each patient with the best possible therapy," says Guenat.

Details on the ARTORG project...
Swiss 3R Competence Centre Media release, 1 July 2020
Article UniAktuell, University of Bern