MDI Biological Laboratory receives $30,000 to support course in organoid technology

The MDI Biological Laboratory has announced that it has received more than $30,000 in cash and in-kind awards in support of its second annual "Applications of Organoid Technology" course, to be held May 26 through June 1 at the institution's Bar Harbor campus.

The awards include contributions from Baker, Bio-Techne, Biological Industries, Corning, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Fisher Scientific, Greiner Bio-One, Leica Microsystems, Nikon, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., STEMCELL Technologies, ThermoFisher Scientific and Vertex.

The week-long biomedical innovation course is among the first to provide extensive hands-on training in organoid culture, course director Hugo de Jonge, Ph.D., a professor at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, has said. De Jonge has been a visiting scientist at the MDI Biological Laboratory since 2008.

The course is offered in partnership with Hubrecht Organoid Technology (The HUB), a non-profit organization based in Utrecht, Netherlands. The HUB was founded to implement the pioneering work of Hans Clevers, M.D., Ph.D., who discovered methods to grow the stem cell-derived three dimensional mini-organs from patient tissues.

Organoids have applications in basic research, drug discovery and regenerative medicine. By offering in-depth training in organoid culture, we are accelerating the adoption of an emerging technology that offers huge potential for human health."

Jane E. Disney, Ph.D., director of education at the MDI Biological Laboratory

The course attracts advanced graduate students, post-doctoral trainees and researchers from universities, medical schools, research institutions and technology companies interested in using organoids to study disease, for pre-clinical drug development and to predict a patient's reaction to a drug or drug combination.

The course will use cultures from the Living Biobank at The HUB, including organoids from patients with cystic fibrosis and cancer. The students will also develop their own organoids from mouse cells. A 2019 addition will be a module on kidney organoids led by Leif Oxburgh, D.V.M., Ph.D., of the Maine Medical Center Research Institute.

"We would like to make organoid technology available to everyone," course director Sylvia F. Boj, Ph.D., scientific director at The HUB, has said. "But it is easier learned from training than from a lab protocol. The good news is that once participants have mastered the technique, their knowledge can benefit their entire home institutions."

Organoids grown from organ-specific adult stem cells, which is what are used in the course, maintain the genetic make-up and properties of the patient's diseased tissue. They provide a platform for investigation that is truer to the disease than conventional two-dimensional cell cultures, but simpler than working with a patient.

The course grew out of research by de Jonge on cystic fibrosis in organoids derived from biopsies of human intestinal tissue. De Jonge was drawn to the use of organoids as a substitute for cells from the dogfish shark, which he had formerly used to study the disease. Another benefit of organoids is that they can replace animal models.

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