UNIIQ Invests €250,000 in Bio-Tech Start-up BIOND Solutions

Delft, 8 October 2020 – BIOND Solutions (Bi/ond), a spin-off of Delft University of Technology, has developed a microchip that can nourish, stimulate and monitor tissues and cells. The company has just secured €250,000 of growth capital from early-stage investment fund UNIIQ. Bi/ond will use part of the investment to expand its already strong team with engineers to work on scaling up the highly promising technology. It will also invest in research and development and intellectual property activities. The investment was announced digitally by Bas Vollebregt, member of Delft city council.

Going beyond                                   

Humans are all different in unique ways, but modern medical treatments ignore genetic variations among individuals. People of different ethnicities, genders and ages have to take drugs that were developed based on genetic criteria entirely different from their own.

Moreover, current research methodologies for developing cures for diseases compel biologists to choose between two options: tests conducted on animals or in vitro studies involving cells cultivated in labware such as petri dishes. Both of these approaches do not sufficiently address human diversity. They fail to adequately predict what will happen in people because the environment created for the cells does not sufficiently resemble conditions in the human body. Bi/ond has devised a tool to overcome this problem.

The power of microelectronics

Founded in 2017, Bi/ond has developed a computer chip and platform where biologists can place an individual’s cells. The microchip nourishes, stimulates and monitors the cells as though they were in the body. Bi/ond’s patented organ-on-chip technology allows treatment to be optimised for different applications, including heart, lung, brain and cancer tissues. These dynamic functionalities allow researchers to find the right medicine for a specific individual, paving the way for personalised medicine. The product’s uniqueness derives from the power of microelectronics.

Bi/ond’s relatively cheap and highly customisable technology can be used to conduct ground-breaking research by growing 3D cell cultures in an environment that mimics the human body. Organ-on-chip is a very promising methodology that is expected to lead to improved success in drug development, lower costs and less animal testing.

Step forward

Two of Bi/ond’s co-founders, CSO William Fausto Quiros Solano and CTO Nikolas Gaio, possess in-depth knowledge of microelectronics and experience with biological solutions. Their insights led to the technological breakthrough. “With our product, we aim to bridge the gap between biology and engineering”, Nikolas Gaio explains. “To build that bridge, we currently have a diverse, interdisciplinary team of six members.” Bi/ond will use part of the €250,000 investment to expand its team with engineers who will work on scaling up the product.

The company’s third co-founder, CEO Cinzia Silvestri, is delighted with UNIIQ’s confidence in Bi/ond’s team and technology: “Thanks to the investment, we can strengthen product development, further invest in our IP portfolio and broaden our customer base. Prestigious hospitals and universities in Europe are already using our product for various purposes, including assessing chemotherapies and studying rare diseases. We want to provide a reliable tool for biologists to develop personalised, inclusive drug testing. This investment is a step towards achieving that goal.”

Hans Dreijklufft, fund manager at UNIIQ: “By developing personalised medicine and reducing animal testing, organ-on-chip technology has the potential to significantly impact human health and animal well-being. We are therefore very happy to invest in Bi/ond. The company’s strong, diverse team is active in many national and European consortia and able to connect with big players in the medical and research world. UNIIQ is pleased to finance this spin-off of Delft University of Technology to help it grow and develop its advanced chip and plate application.”

For more information on this topic, please contact:

 Bi/ond

Cinzia Silvestri

CEO

Email: cinzia@biondteam.com

www.gobiond.com

 

UNIIQ

Ludolf Stavenga

Investment Manager

+31 6 535 98 266

ludolf.stavenga@uniiq.nl

UNIIQ.nl

About Bi/ond

Bio-tech company Bi/ond was founded in 2017 to improve medical treatment for millions of patients by developing innovative hardware solutions for organ-on-chip applications. Its customisable microchips and platform technology can be used to nourish, stimulate and monitor tissues and cells, facilitating biomedical research that reflects humanity’s natural diversity. This allows for more accurate drug testing and simulations of any tissue type, paving the way for personalised medicine. Based in Delft, the Netherlands, Bi/ond provides its lab technology to some of the top hospitals in Europe and collaborates with many technical institutes and research centres.

About UNIIQ

UNIIQ is a €22 million investment fund focused on the proof-of-concept phase, which helps entrepreneurs in West Holland bring their unique innovation to market faster. UNIIQ offers entrepreneurs the seed capital to achieve their plans and bridge the riskiest phase from concept to promising business. A consortium, including Erasmus MC, TU Delft, Leiden University and the regional development agency InnovationQuarter, created the fund. UNIIQ is made possible by the European Union, the Province of South Holland and the municipalities of Rotterdam, The Hague and Leiden. InnovationQuarter is responsible for the fund management.

Watch a short introduction to UNIIQ here: https://youtu.be/Ix9VZUsHlyU

Eurostars Project Collaboration with LUMC and Fluigent

3D Cardiac Tissues Will Be Soon Nourished and Stimulated in a Compact Format

1.4mn euro project to Bi/ond-led consortium between Bi/ond, Fluigent and LUMC to develop the first Organ-on-Chip system that can keep complex 3D tissue models alive and mimic the physiological conditions of the human body.

Delft, Leiden and Paris – October 1, 2020 – BIOND Solutions B.V. (Bi/ond), Fluigent S.A.S. and the Department of Anatomy and Embryology, Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) joined forces to developt a compact Organ-on-Chip system for the heart.

The two companies will deliver the first-ever Organ-on-Chip (OoC) system that can keep complex 3D tissue models alive (through a vascularised channel, including microfluidic flow) while providing mechanical stimulation.

The 1.4mn euro CompactOoC-3D project has been funded by the EU under the EUROSTARS program. EUROSTARS supports the development of innovative products that impact people`s lives around the world. The grant has joint contributions from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and Bpifrance.

The compact OoC system will integrate the Bi/ond OoC technology with the Fluigent perfusion system and it will be qualified by LUMC for 3D cardiac tissue models based on cardiomyocytes from human induced pluripotent stem cells.

This innovative solution will save biologists time and costs, it is compact and will be usable with minimal training.

Presently, this type of study is limited by the short time that 3D tissues cultured in vitro are viable.

“We want to radically improve the quality of research on 3D tissues models by developing a compact Organ-on-Chip solution combining organ-vessel interaction and ease of use. We are delighted to run this project with LUMC and Fluigent”, states Dr. Cinzia Silvestri, CEO and co-founder of Bi/ond.

The Bi/ond – Fluigent system will mimic the physiological conditions of the human body by providing mechanical stimulation experienced by cells in vivo, nutrients to the micro-tissue through a blood vessel, or mimicking the immune system (through delivery of fluids and/or immune cells in the microchannel system). The system will offer cell co-culture support to replicate tissue-tissue interfaces.

The system that will emerge from this project will allow us to keep our complex 3D models in culture for longer periods of time. This is not just an incremental improvement but it will allow us to explore new types of biological questions such as what happens to the heart during long-term exposure to drugs used for example in chemotherapy, states Berend van Meer, researcher and project coordinator of the LUMC.

The end-goal of the project is to develop and qualify an Organ-on-Chip system suitable for complex 3D tissue models, compact enough to fit into a standard incubator tray and usable by biologists accustomed to in vitro cultures.

Enabling the development of technologies that have the potential to change and accelerate science research is at the core of Fluigent. This collaboration is a unique opportunity for Fluigent to make our premium instruments initially designed for experts in microfluidics accessible to biologists. Our high-performance systems combined with innovative 3D cellular models will allow to address questions that could not be tackled before due to technological limitations. Organ-on-chip will initiate a major shift in cell culture and Fluigent is thrilled to engage in it.” states Dr. France Hamber, CEO of Fluigent.

The collaboration between Bi/ond, Fluigent and LUMC combines cutting-edge technologies and world-leading science in a consortium that will unlock the full potential of OoC technology, and enable biologists to speed up their research by adopting a compact easy to use system.

About BIOND Solutions B.V.

Located in Delft, BIOND Solutions B.V. is a woman lead company specialized in developing the best hardware solutions to outperform the limitation of standard in vitro assays.

The company is a spin-off of the Delft University of Technology, one of the most prestigious of its kind in Europe. The unique expertise of the company lies in designing and manufacturing processing microfluidic devices based on the unique combination of silicon and polymer for Organ-on-Chip applications.

BI/OND bridges biology and engineering – through an amalgam of our in-depth knowledge of microelectronics and experience with biological solutions.

About Fluigent SAS

Located in Kremlin-Bicêtre, Fluigent SAS is a company leader in microfluidic recognized for its expertise and premium instrumentation dedicated to microfluidic fluid control. Over the years the company has developed fluid handling solutions based on its proprietary pressure control technology serving academics and industrials worldwide. Whether the application is with droplets, cell biology, particle studies, or in other research areas, the expertise and knowledge of Fluigent makes it one of the sole actor able to answer to any fluid control needs.

About Department of Anatomy and Embryology, Leiden University Medical Centre

LUMC is a modern university medical center for research, education and patient care with a high-quality profile and a strong scientific orientation. The Department of Anatomy and Embryology is specialized in stem cell research and differentiation to the cardiovascular lineage.

For further information

 

Bi/ond

Cinzia Silvestri

CEO and co-founder of Bi/ond.

Email: cinzia@biondteam.com

Nikolas Gaio

CTO and co-founder of Bi/ond.

Email: nikolas@biondteam.com

www.gobiond.com

Fluigent

France Hamber

CEO of Fluigent

Email : France.hamber@fluigent.com

Marine Verhulsel

Product Manager

Email : marine.verhulsel@fluigent.com

 William César

R&D Project Manager

Email : william.cesar@fluigent.com

www.fluigent.com/

 

LUMC

Christine Mummery

Professor

Email: c.l.mummery@lumc.nl

Berend van Meer

Researcher

Email: b.j.vanmeer@lumc.nl

www.lumc.nl/org/anatomie-embryologie

Microtas Conference 2020

This upcoming October 4 – 9, Bi/ond will have the amazing opportunity to sponsor and be an exhibitor on:

The 24th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences: μTas 2020

 

During the conference, topics such as Fundamentals in Microfluidics/Nanofluidics, Micro Engineering, Integrated Microfluidic Platforms, Organ-on-Chips, and personalized Medicine and its applications will be covered. 

 

  • Monday, October 5 (11:10 US Eastern / 17:10 CET),Industrial Stage 2.

Our CTO and Co-founder, Nikolas Gaio, will provide a 20 min demo of our system with a 5 minutes live Q&A. 

  • Thursday, October 8 (11:15 US Eastern / 17:15 CET)

Our Field Application Scientist, Amr Othman, will be present in the interactive poster session:

‘NOURISHING, MONITORING AND STIMULATING CELLS WITH BI/OND’S ORGAN-ON-CHIP DEVICE’ (#Th8-879.e) 

together with a second live Q&A session.

 

The MicroTas conference is aimed specifically for the scientific community. Featuring important speakers and activities focused towards solutions on miniaturized life sciences and chemical sciences. 

 

For more information and registration, please visit: https://microtas2020.org/

 

Q&A #OoCovid initiative

Nikolas Gaio, founder and CTO of Bi/ond, and Rosa Monge, founder and CEO of BEOnChip chats about the #OoCovid initiative and the importance of organ-on-chip.


Why did Bi/ond launch the #OoCovid initiative?

Niko: When the Covid19 outbreak started to hit Europe, everyone in BI/OND was sure that Organ-on-Chip technology could have a real impact in the fight against the Covid19. We noticed the Organ-on-Chip community was not reacting fast enough. So we decided to do something about it, and we came up with the #OoCovid initiative. This challenge aimed at three main goals.

Patient First:
First and foremost, we wanted to help Covid-19 patients by promoting donations to researchers working on studying the disease and its effects on the human body.
Unity is Strength:
Second, the initiative aimed at convincing all the OOC startups and companies to join forces and work together for a solution.
Need for change:
Third, we wanted to raise awareness regarding the need for new ways of developing drugs and vaccines, to prove that OoC is a valuable alternative.

Why did you join the #OoCovid initiative?

Rosa: Covid19 has caught us completely off-guard and has caused a global crisis that will take years to overcome. This pandemic has shown us all how fragile our economy is and how unprepared our health systems were for a worldwide pandemic. Now is the time for innovation in vitro-research, to speed up the development of new drugs, treatments and vaccines for new diseases such as Covid19. We believe that the Organ on Chip technology will have a key role in future biomedical research, and the #OoCovid initiative aims to put the OoC technology in the spotlight. #OoCovid will help researchers and private companies to understand better the possibilities of the next generation of in vitro research platforms and the importance of adopting this technology early.

How could OoC research contribute to find a solution for viruses such as the coronavirus?

Niko: We believe that OoCs will show their full potential in understanding the effect of Covid-19 on the human body. The combination of OoC and 3D tissues, such as organoids, should not only enable us to understand the mechanisms behind the infection and the damages caused by the virus on lungs, kidneys, heart but also how it interacts with the whole immune system.

Rosa: OoC technology is a powerful tool that will contribute significantly to finding solutions to the medical crisis in the future. OoC can enable us to create models of healthy organs such as a lung-on-chip, that will help us understand better the infection process or test the toxicity of a new treatment in a fast and reliable way. In addition, Organ on a chip technology allows us to model diseased organs and allows us to screen a drug efficacy using cells from a specific population group, that is known to be more susceptible to contracting an illness.

The possibilities are uncanny, and the OoC field is just currently blooming.

Which are the current limits of OoC research and could they be overcome by collaborating more within fields?

Rosa: The field is multidisciplinary. This technology combines the latest advances in tissue engineering with novel developments in microfabrication. Therefore, it is compulsory to create new communication channels between engineers and biomedical researchers to design functional, cheap and easy to use platforms.

What is the role of OOC companies in bridging the gap between research and industry?

Rosa: OoC companies have an enormous task to gather the most relevant advances in OoC technology and take them from the lab to the industry by creating reliable platforms. These platforms will save time and money for researchers and companies that can directly focus on the goal at hand: testing the efficacy or toxicity of a drug, without worrying and spending time in cell culture and organ model validation.

This will pave the way for a faster and more responsive health-care system worldwide, capable of overcoming unexpected crises such as this one.

Niko: OoC has shown to be an extremely versatile technology with a wide range of applications. OoC companies, like BI/OND and BeOnChip, have the duty to identify the applications that will have a real impact on tomorrow’s health-care. At the same time, we have to take into consideration that, to make these technologies widely available, we need to develop technologies that address the day to day issues faced by biologists working in pharmaceutical companies.

We believe that OoC will contribute to advancing the global health-care system, by proving safe, personalized and reliable solutions.

Bi/ond joins forces

Bi/ond joins forces with the Eindhoven University of Technology and Luxembourg
University to develop a Midbrain-on-a-Chip model for Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder in the ageing
population. It is characterized by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia
nigra region of the brain. Despite intensive research, the cause of the disease is still elusive, and
there is currently no disease-modifying therapy for its treatment. Therefore, it is crucial to achieving
a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying neuronal degeneration. A major shortcoming
toward this goal is the lack of human-specific predictive models for PD.
A promising approach is the development of human brain organoids, self-assembled from
induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC), as systems to better mimic in vivo physiology. However,
maintaining these organoids alive for extended periods in standard in vitro conditions is extremely
challenging. Due to their structural complexity and large size, these three-dimensional tissue models
often suffer from suboptimal oxygen and nutrition supply, which severely limits their viability.