“If pharmaceuticals can develop treatments for humans faster, costs can go down”


Paul Vulto works as managing director at Mimetas, the organ-on-a-chip company as they call themselves. Mimetas has developed several products in this field. Their OrganoPlate-line makes it possible to tests drugs in advanced 3D tissue models. The Dutch company is market leader in this field. MinacNed had an interview with Vulto in anticipation for the Network meeting ‘Accelerating drug development using organ- & lab-on-a-chip technology’.

Author: Dimitri Reijerman

A managing director of a big biotech company has to be ambitious and adventurous. Vulto is like that. And he thinks we live in a golden age where technological innovation goes faster and faster every day: “We walk stand on the shoulders of giants, but the problem is those giants are walking in continuous motion themselves. Stem cell technology is a huge revolution. You can extract stem cells from adult tissue, from which you can further differentiate certain cell types.”

And he goes on: “All these protocols are new, methods to edit genes are new. There is so much research we as Mimetas could and should use. Apart from that, we develop technology almost nobody has ever done: create make different types of cells interacting with each other in a complex 3D matrix under continuous flow conditions.”

Mimetas is already producing a pallet of different 3D tissues. Vulto: “We produce kidney tissue, brain tissue, gut models, liver tissue, different types of tumor models and everything related to blood vessel structures.” According to the co-founder of Mimetas this expertise has been built because the OrganoPlate platform, the basis where these embedded tissues are grown, are is generic.

New horizons

Vulto explains his company is constantly researching new tissues, while keeping a close eye on the latest developments in stem cell research: “We are interested in the pancreas. Also the lungs and the skin. We did some research on the retina in the past, but we would like to restart this. Essentially, all tissues are interesting for us.”

Also cancer research is a focus point for Mimetas. “We believe future cancer therapies will be more evidence based then today. First there are lab tests to see which therapy works best for a certain patient. After the tests the researcher will give the physician a detailed advice on what therapy could be most effective.”

At the moment Mimetas is running a series of small trials at academic medical centers. Target is to develop proof of concepts on personalized medicines for a more effective treatment of cancer. Vulto hopes his technology will be market ready within three to five years.

Lowering prices

But there are more promises on the horizon. High prices for certain medicines are a hot topic in modern society. LabOrgan-on-a-chip technology can play a role in lowering the costs of modern medicine, the Mimetas-ceo suggests: “When we can predict if a certain treatment will be effective, it’s easier to make the decision to reimburse this treatment. Secondly, if pharmaceutical companiess can develop better treatments for humans faster, costs can go down further.” At the same time Vulto is aware that prices for many medicines are mainly driven by market evaluations.

On the 15th of May, Vulto will talk in more detail about organ-on-a-chip technology: “I will tell my audience about the paradigm shift we’re seeing in medicine development and research. Also I’ll focus on the trend to more individualized treatments. We think these same paths will be taken in addressing diseases like Parkinson and Alzheimer.”

Looking at his own company, the main target for Mimetas the next two years will be to introduce their OrganoPlate-technology in every lab around the world. Driving costs down further and upscaling will be essential to reach those goals, Vulto says. But alike many biotech-companies, there are so many challenges, it’s sometimes hard to choose.