Prof. Meier & team deliver to Pioneer Campus’ and HelmholtzMunich’s mission

The development of novel medications is becoming increasingly complex and is facing unprecedented challenges.

Most drug candidates fail in clinical trials due to the lack of suitable models that reliably predict therapeutic responses in humans. 

To date, humanized preclinical disease models promise to bridge the translational value creation gap in drug developmentthrough lower attrition rates, higher speed and cost-effectiveness. Specifically, human organ-on-chip (OoCs) technologies are on the rise as enabling platforms for drug development and toxicology assessments since they can both recapitulate human (patho-)physiology and facilitate manipulation of dynamic cues. The increasing usage of OoCs in basic and translational research as well as substantial corporate investments confirm their robustness, commercial potential, and exponential growth opportunities.

µLUMEN-Chip, a validation project funded with Euro 800.000 by the Initiative and Networking Fund of the Helmholtz association, builds upon the pioneering work of Matthias Meier’s lab towards production of pancreatic tissue, aiming to engineer a novel microfluidic OoC platform that (a) enables organotypic cell culture models in a lumen-based 3D hydrogel and (b) is applicable to a broad range of human epithelial tissues. The µLUMEN-Chip is unique and unprecedented in terms of scalability, physiological relevance, analytical performance as well as user experience and the project will focus on difficult to access human tubular tissues, particularly targeting clinical areas that are lacking adequate models so far. Ultimately, µLUMEN-Chip is set to overcome the technological hurdles toward industrial production of the chip - a prerequisite for automated data acquisition to establish a µLUMEN screening and analysis platform.

Combining large-scale compound screens with tailored functional assays will challenge current drug development paradigms, overcome major obstacles and propel the compound development process to the next level. As such, μLUMEN-Chip will provide a much-needed solution for accelerated disease modelling of currently inaccessible human tissues and hence, add substantial value for customers both in pharmaceutical industry and academia.


Background Helmholtz Validiation Projects

The mission of the Helmholtz Association is to contribute solutions to major societal challenges.

The overarching goal of the validation projects is to transfer ideas into application. The financial support enables Helmholtz scientists to validate their research results in order to achieve an increase in value and commercialization potential.