2014 National Icon - Cultured stem cells
HUB tests cancer drugs on living tissue taken from patients and developed into miniature organs in the laboratory. Substantial numbers of these organoids developed from bits of tumour or from healthy tissue together form a ‘Living Biobank’.
This can be used to develop drugs tailored to the unique genetic code of a patient's tumour.
The method is already proving fruitful. The Hubrecht Institute and HUB have already introduced new organoid models for lung cancer and breast cancer. A positive organoid test has also led to new drugs being developed for cystic fibrosis. HUB expects to be able to start the first treatments in late 2016.
Some ten biopharma companies now have licensing agreements with HUB, including Galapagos and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The successful organoid tests have even led to the launch of the Human Cancer Models Initiative (HCMI), an international organoid initiative involving HUB, Cancer UK, the Sanger Institute (UK) and the National Cancer Institute (USA). This National Icon project also features prominently in the Knowledge and Innovation Agenda of the Life Science and Health Top Sector.
The Hubrecht Organoid Technology Foundation aims to further develop organoid technology and use it to create new drugs for cancer patients. HUB is a collaboration between UMC Utrecht and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).