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European funding for research on emerging breakthrough technology

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The European Innovation Council Pathfinder Challenges program funds the international research consortium “Supervised Morphogenesis in Gastruloids” – SUMO

November 1st 2022 marked the start of 39 collaborative consortia from 27 countries within the Pathfinder program of the European Innovation Council (EIC). These projects are funded with 145 million Euros in total. Funding supports early-stage development of future technologies up to the proof-of-concept stage for the next five years. The funded projects are the first of Pathfinder projects selected under the EIC challenges call.

The interdisciplinary consortium “Supervised Morphogenesis in Gastruloids” (SUMO) received a total funding of 4.95 mio EURO (including UK replacement funding) to challenge the current limitations for realistic in vitro organ models by building on state-of-the-art gastruloid technology. Gastruloids are multi-tissue embryonic organoids that can recapitulate mammalian developmental processes, including early organogenesis, in a dish. They harbor great promise for both fundamental and applied science for their ability to model organ primordia in the framework of their native three-dimensional context. To fully harness the potential of gastruloid technology, the SUMO consortium will tackle current bottlenecks regarding gastruloid reproducibility, tissue organization and physiology using cutting edge technology including Raman imaging, artificial intelligence and bioengineering. Specifically, the consortium aims to achieve reproducible and scalable formation of gastruloids with embryo-like morphology that enter advanced organogenesis stages, focusing on cardiac and gut development.

The SUMO consortium enters a portfolio of seven consortia that are funded within the “Engineered Living Materials” EIC challenge.

The Screening Unit of the FMP contributes in this context with automated high-throughput biological assays and analysis of cell morphological patterns as checkpoints of normal embryo development.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said, “Congratulations to all projects selected under the first EIC Pathfinder Challenges call. With the support of EIC Program Managers, they will progress together towards common goals and create new opportunities for radical innovation. With the new mechanisms under the EIC, we have the means to support the whole value chain and to transform these innovative technologies into successful companies in Europe.”

The SUMO consortium unites researchers from the University Hospital Oslo, Norway (HTH director: Stefan Krauss, coordinator), Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) (Jesse Veenvliet), Imperial College London, UK (HTH PI: Molly Stevens), University of Glasgow, UK (HTH PI: Nikolaj Gadegaard), Tel Aviv University, Israel (Iftach Nachman), Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), Germany (Jens von Kries) and University of Oslo (HTH PI: Jan Helge Solbakk).