Hubrecht Organoid Technology (HUB) and the Dutch health insurance companies CZ, Zilveren Kruis and Menzis plan to launch a €3 million ($3.1 million) validation trial to determine whether HUB’s organoid technology can be used to assess how cystic fibrosis (CF) patients might respond to new therapies.
HUB’s technology is based on the work of Professor Hans Clevers, who discovered ways to grow stem cell-derived human “mini-organs,” or organoids, from patient tissue. The organoids, which are grown from biopsied tissue, faithfully mimic the genetic and phenotypic profiles of diseased tissues.
The companies hope to determine whether the organoids can be used as a predicative test for specific treatments to avoid unnecessary expenses and unsuccessful treatment attempts with patients.
“The support of the Dutch health insurance companies to implement new breakthrough treatments and technologies demonstrates the ambition of medical scientists and health care professionals to improve health care together,” Robert Vries, chief operating officer of HUB, said in a press release.
Organoids have been used for drug screenings and preclinical drug discovery, and have proven to be valuable disease models for screening new medicines. HUB now is evaluating whether they can be used as a diagnostic tool.
“The new project is a major next step for the implementation of the HUB Organoid technology. We are very happy that this very recently developed technology might already benefit patients,” said Hans Clevers, chief scientific officer of HUB.
Only recently have new treatments for CF been developed. Though they have been groundbreaking, their costs and limited benefits in certain patients have been a hurdle to their general inclusion in reimbursement programs.
“It is important that also expensive medication is available for patients and therefore treatment needs to be carefully considered so that we treat only patients who respond. Because we do not want to exclude anyone who requires new medication, this validation trial is very important to develop a test that will show who does and who does not benefit from a specific therapy,” said Joep de Groot, board of directors of CbusinesZ, the innovation arm of CZ.