To establish food safety, existing food-borne chemicals and novel food related products should be analysed for potential adverse effects on human health. For this type of research animal studies are the golden standard, but in vitro models, like human organoids, are being developed as alternative models for animal testing.
Animal experiments and alternatives
In the food industry, food safety for consumers is the first requirement. Existing food-borne chemicals and novel food related products should be analysed for potential adverse effects on human health. Animal models are still the golden standard to evaluate potential hazards although their relevance is disputed as species extrapolation has often proven to be inaccurate leading to mispredictions for humans. Furthermore, animal experiments are time-consuming, costly, and society opposes the use of animal studies. As alternative methods for animal models, human based in vitro models have been developed, but they are often oversimplified and these current in vitro models are often not fully predictive for humans, indicating a clear need for in vitro models with a better prediction towards in vivo outcomes. Novel model systems like organoids comprise a higher cellular complexity and are predicted to achieve a more reliable prediction of hazards analysis. However, so far the reproducibility and the prediction of organoid models for in vivo effects has not been characterised very well.
Conventional in vitro culture protocols generally rely on static conditions (e.g. using culture flasks or well plates). These conditions, however, do not mimic the physiological features in the human body. Organ-on-chip models have been developed, recapitulating the dynamic physical and functional features of human tissues far better than static in vitro models. These dynamic systems are recognized to set new standards for in vitro cell culture models.
This project aims to develop human intestinal organoids for application in the area of (agri)food & health for animal free research on hazard identification. We aim to optimise our current organoid culturing protocols, including development of growth in organ-on-chip devices, and validate these human organoid models as predictive models for hazard identification analyses of new and existing compounds intended for human intake as well as of (emerging) contaminants in the food chain using food relevant show cases.