Gut-on-a-chip technology for researching inflammatory bowel diseases


Claudia Beaurivage, Ph.D candidate and Associate Scientist Target Discovery & Validation, is researching inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Beaurivage will be talking about her research and the use of organ-on-a-chip technology at the network meeting ‘Accelerating drug development using organ- and lab-on-a-chip technology’ on May 15.

IBD, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. These diseases have a rapidly increasing incidence. The pathology however is not well understood.

Claudia Beaurivage
Claudia Beaurivage

Beaurivage and her colleagues at Galapagos and Mimetas are developing a gut-on-a-chip microfluidic model to do further research on IBD. A gut-on-a-chip device with the right model could make high throughput drug screening possible. Beaurivage: “Galapagos in his lab in Leiden is first doing target discovery. We’re trying to find new proteins or genes that are involved in inflammatory processes. Once we found the targets, we can develop medicines which specifically target those genes.”

High troughput screenings

The goal of Beaurivage’s Ph.D project is to develop a complex 3D gut-on-a-chip model that’s suitable for high throughput screenings. These screenings are routinely performed at Galapagos. Beaurivage: “The nice thing about gut-on-a-chip technology is that it’s more physiologically relevant. The plates create media perfusion, which mimics fluids flowing in the body.”

Her research on IBD’s with gut-on-a-chip technology started in October 2016. Beaurivage started with simple cell lines to validate the system, but currently Beaurivage is researching primary human material. She hopes her research and from others will make it possible to find a medicine which could decrease the inflammation that occurs with IBD’s, but the main aim is to develop a reproducible model which closely mimics the in vivo situation.

Organ-on-a-chip technology could also be used to culture cells from IBD patients to predict if they will respond to a certain medication. This makes it possible to find the medication that is best suited for them.

Beaurivage hopes to finalize her Ph.D at the end of this year. And on the longer term, she also has hope new technologies like CRISPR-engineering of colon organoids will make IBD better treatable.