BIRMINGHAM, CAMBRIDGE, HUDDERSFIELD (UK), HANNOVER (Germany), BARCELONA (Spain), 9 June 2016: The MESO-BRAIN consortium has received a prestigious award of €3.3 million in funding from the European Commission as part of its Future and Emerging Technology (FET) scheme. The project aims to develop three-dimensional (3D) human neural networks with specific biological architecture, and the inherent ability to interrogate the network’s brain-like activity both electrophysiologically and optically. It is expected that the MESO-BRAIN will facilitate a better understanding of human disease progression, neuronal growth and enable the development of large-scale human cell-based assays to test the modulatory effects of pharmacological and toxicological compounds on neural network activity. The use of more physiologically relevant human models will increase drug screening efficiency and reduce the need for animal testing.
About the MESO-BRAIN project
The MESO-BRAIN project’s cornerstone will use human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that have been differentiated into neurons upon a defined and reproducible 3D scaffold to support the development of human neural networks that emulate brain activity. The structure will be based on a brain cortical module and will be unique in that it will be designed and produced using nanoscale 3D-laser-printed structures incorporating nano-electrodes to enable downstream electrophysiological analysis of neural network function. Optical analysis will be conducted using cutting-edge light sheet-based, fast volumetric imaging technology to enable cellular resolution throughout the 3D network. The MESO-BRAIN project will allow for a comprehensive and detailed investigation of neural network development in health and disease.
Prof Edik Rafailov, Head of the MESO-BRAIN project (Aston University) said:
“What we’re proposing to achieve with this project has, until recently, been the stuff of science fiction. Being able to extract and replicate neural networks from the brain through 3D nanoprinting promises to change this. The MESO-BRAIN project has the potential to revolutionise the way we are able to understand the onset and development of disease and discover treatments for those with dementia or brain injuries. We cannot wait to get started!”
The MESO-BRAIN project will launch in September 2016 and research will be conducted over three years.
About the MESO-BRAIN consortium
Each of the consortium partners have been chosen for the highly specific skills & knowledge that they bring to this project. These include technologies and expertise in stem cells, photonics, physics, 3D nanoprinting, electrophysiology, molecular biology, imaging and commercialisation.
(UK) Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (School of Engineering and Applied Science) is one of the largest photonic groups in UK and an internationally recognised research centre in the fields of lasers, fibre-optics, high-speed optical communications, nonlinear and biomedical photonics. The Cell & Tissue Biomedical Research Group (Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing) combines collective expertise in genetic manipulation, tissue engineering and neuronal modelling with the electrophysiological and optical analysis of human iPSC-derived neural networks.
(UK) was founded to fulfil the unmet demand for high quality, clinically relevant human iPSC-derived cells for use in biomedical research and drug discovery.
(Germany) is a leading research organisation in the fields of laser development, material processing, laser medicine, and laser-based nanotechnologies.
(Spain) are experts in combing experiments with theoretical and computational modelling to infer functional connectivity in neuronal circuits.
(ICFO) (Spain) is a world-leading research centre in photonics with expertise in several microscopy techniques including light sheet imaging.
(UK) helps to bridge the gap between the academic and business sectors in supporting collaboration, enterprise, and knowledge-based business development.
About the FET funding
Horizon 2020 aims to ensure Europe produces world-class science by removing barriers to innovation through funding programmes such as the FET. The FET (Open) funds forward-looking collaborations between advanced multidisciplinary science and cutting-edge engineering for radically new future technologies. The published success rate is below 1.4%, making it amongst the toughest in the Horizon 2020 suite of funding schemes. The MESO-BRAIN proposal scored a perfect 5/5.
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NOTES TO EDITOR
The MESO-BRAIN initiative targets a transformative progress in photonics, neuroscience and medicine. The project aims to develop human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neural networks upon a defined and reproducible 3D scaffold to emulate brain activity and improve our understanding and treatment of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia and trauma. This research, led by Aston University, is a collaboration between Axol Bioscience Ltd. (UK), Laser Zentrum Hannover (Germany), University of Barcelona (Spain), Institute of Photonic Sciences (Spain) and KITE Innovation (UK). The project is funded by the European Commission through its Future and Emerging Technology (Open) programme.
About Axol Bioscience
Axol was co-founded by Jonathan Milner, PhD and Yichen Shi, PhD whose combined expertise and entrepreneurial spirit was the driving force behind the creation of Axol – where innovation, quality and customer service are key. Axol produces highly validated, human cells and critical reagents such as media and growth supplements. The Axol team is passionate about great science, delivering superb customer service and support and innovating future products to help customers advance their research faster. To find out more, visit