One of the first organoids grown on SUN bioscience’s Gri3D are “mini-intestines” for Cystic Fibrosis research. “Cystic Fibrosis serves as an ideal proof-of-concept to demonstrate the effectiveness of this type of precision medicine,” says Sylke. “Drug efficacy for the disease hovers at barely over 50% for the most common mutation. Testing directly on an organoid, rather than predicting success based on genetic analysis, has the potential to improve these results.” To carry out these tests, SUN bioscience is exploring new clinical readouts that work exclusively with its Gri3D-produced organoids. A clinical pilot in Switzerland using their technology is currently underway.Alongside medical benefits come economic and environmental advantages. “Our technology maximises the amount of readable data points per surface, with up to 1,000 more than other organ-on-a-chip technologies, but at a comparable price.” And since the plastics employed in this field are single-use, 1,000 more data points can eliminate hundreds of plates that would normally be used, saving on plastic waste.Keen to protect patient data and identities and anticipate upcoming regulations, SUN bioscience is also developing strategies to allow access to large sets of patient-specific organoids while maintaining privacy. “We want patients to be directly involved in decisions about how their cells are used and what data is generated on them,” says Sylke.
FROM LAB TO PATIENT
Like many scientists turned entrepreneurs, Sylke evokes the frustration of seeing how much fine scientific research ends up tucked away in university drawers. Her company was born from a side project which she and Nathalie worked on to standardise fabrication of retinal organoids, in collaboration with the Jules Gonin Eye Hospital in Lausanne. It was here that they started to develop their Gri3D technology. “It was exciting because it was a tricky project that we conducted alongside our PhD without even knowing if it would work!” says Sylke. “But it was also inspiring to be so close to doctors’ and patients’ needs.”