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Meet the ADAPTED Researchers - Tania Fowke, MIMETAS

What is your current role within the ADAPTED Project?

My role involves developing 3D “neurovascular unit on-a-chip” models using the MIMETAS Organoplate® technology. We use human neural stem cells and astrocytes with different APOE genotypes. These cells are then combined with a 3D endothelial tube to form a neurovascular unit. We are using this model to examine the effect of systemic factors on both the blood-brain barrier and on neurons and astrocytes, to help determine the role of APOE in Alzheimer’s disease development.

Tell us a bit more about MIMETAS and what they do.

MIMETAS develops and validates customised disease-, toxicology- and transport tissue models using organ-on-a-chip technology for drug screening in 3D-tissues. Our unique microfluidic platform enables testing of compounds in high-throughput on miniaturised organ models. These models offer better predictivity as compared to laboratory animal testing and conventional cell culture models. The MIMETAS OrganoPlate® platform supports 3D cell culture under continuous perfusion, membrane-free co-culture and boundary- and gradient formation, thus mimicking important aspects of tissues and organs. MIMETAS has an open culture, where achievements go hand in hand with a fun place to work. Our close-knit team stays successful by maintaining a good atmosphere while working in a highly competitive field. MIMETAS’ headquarters are based in Leiden, The Netherlands and our manufacturing facility is based in Enschede, The Netherlands. We have subsidiaries in Gaithersburg, MD, USA and Tokyo, Japan.

What have been some of the biggest achievements so far in ADAPTED?

I am very new to this project, but I think the establishment of a 3D perfused blood-brain barrier model (Wevers et al. 2018, Fluids and Barriers of the CNS) was an important step towards modelling the full neurovascular unit.

What excites you most about the project?

I am particularly excited about working with cells from human donors with different APOE genotypes. I think we are fortunate to have access to these cells as they provide a great opportunity to create really biologically relevant models.

What are your expectations for ADAPTED?

I believe ADAPTED will improve on current understanding of how APOE contributes to Alzheimer’s disease, to better inform future therapeutic strategies. I also expect the results of ADAPTED to highlight the need for further research into APOE in its own right.

What are your hopes for the future treatment of Alzheimer’s disease?

My hope is that we can identify critical early events in the disease process to allow earlier diagnosis and treatment.

What do you think EU collaborative research projects such as ADAPTED have to offer?

EU collaborative projects offer an incredible wealth of expertise across multiple disciplines, organisations, and countries. Importantly, collaborations like ADAPTED allow this knowledge to be coordinated and targeted towards achieving a common goal.

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