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Prof. Jeffrey Beekman and Dr. Francesca Grisoni from the Centre for Living Technologies (CLT) have received funding from the National Growth Fund to develop an integrated framework aimed at streamlining the identification of promising drug candidates. This innovative approach will accelerate the drug discovery process while reducing the reliance on laboratory animals.

The Dutch National Growth Fund has invested €124.5 million to establish the Centre for Animal-Free Biomedical Translation (Centrum voor Proefdiervrije Biomedische Translatie – CPBT). The CPBT seeks to produce safer and more effective treatments, minimizing animal suffering and delivering both economic and social benefits through improved medicines and reduced animal testing.

With this funding, Beekman and Grisoni will collaborate to create innovative technologies that reduce laboratory animal use and expedite the identification of potential drugs. Using patients’ own tissues for medical models offers a more accurate representation than animal models. Researchers can grow organoids from patients’ stem cells, allowing for personalized treatment insights. These mini-organs simulate the human body’s response to drugs, providing a more precise testing ground. Coupled with molecular AI, which identifies billions of potential molecules, this approach enhances drug discovery. This combined methodology of organoids and AI promises significant advancements in creating novel medicines for CF, and how to use them on an individual basis.

Jeffrey Beekman, a CLT Board member is a professor of cellular disease models at UMC Utrecht. Fracesca Grisoni is an Assistant Profeessor at the Biomedical Engineering department of TU/e. This work builds on their previous collaboration, which aimed at animal-free drug discovery, marking a shift in research paradigms.

The CPBT is supported by a core consortium of leading institutions, including Utrecht University, UMC Utrecht, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, and RIVM, in partnership with various public and private entities. More information is available at National Growth Fund – CPBT.