Neuroscientist Jens Schwamborn grows brain organoids.
Until now, Parkinson’s disease has been considered incurable – which inspired Prof. Jens Schwamborn, together with his colleague Javier Jarazo, to found OrganoTherapeutics, a spin-off company of the University of Luxembourg / Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) in 2019, in order to be able to dedicate themselves to research on this disease. In the process, Jens Schwamborn’s team developed a research model that is also suitable for research into other diseases. The outstanding feature of this model is that research can be conducted on the disease directly where it occurs. Patients or animals do not have to be used as test subjects.
– The professional career of Jens Schwamborn
– OrganoTherapeutics: Research with an innovative approach
– Brain organoids in use against SARS-CoV2
– Mini brains: The way to the future
THE PROFESSIONAL CAREER OF JENS SCHWAMBORN
Jens Schwamborn studied chemistry and biochemistry and subsequently obtained his doctorate in biology. Various postgraduate projects enabled him to gain practical experience and opened up the possibility of founding his own research group. During this work, a fundamental problem of neuroscience became more and more apparent to Schwamborn: research findings obtained in the laboratory can hardly be tested at the actual places where the diseases happen – in the patient’s brain. With OrganoTherapeutics, Schwamborn is therefore focusing entirely on the development of brain organoids that provide an environment that resembles the actual situation in the brain in some aspects.
ORGANOTHERAPEUTICS: RESEARCH WITH AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH
The mini-brains reproduce the situation of neurons in the midbrain, the region affected by Parkinson’s disease. To generate these brain organoids, skin cells are first taken from Parkinson’s patients, which already carry the genetic information about the disease. Finally, brain organoids are grown from the stem cells developed from these cells, which have the great advantage of representing both the complexity of the human brain and the pathology of Parkinson’s disease. For Jens Schwamborn, this provides an ideal basis on which to test new active substances for drugs. Substantial compounds that achieve an effect on these mini-brains can actually also be effective in the human brain itself due to the similar structure of the brain organoids.
BRAIN ORGANOIDS IN ACTION AGAINST SARS-COV2
The urgency with which research is currently being conducted on the SARS-CoV2 corona virus prompted Jens Schwamborn and OrganoTherapeutics to enter into a project collaboration with the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and DeepBioInsights. The project is supported by the Luxembourg government and focuses on research on brain organoids infected with SARS-CoV2. Like Parkinson’s, SARS-CoV2 primarily attacks the human central nervous system in addition to the respiratory system. The idea that the mini-brains could make a contribution to corona research was accordingly obvious. Under the greatest possible protective measures, the brain organoids will be infected with SARS-CoV2 so that research can be conducted into exactly how the virus attacks and which substances may be effective against it.
MINI-BRAINS: THE WAY TO THE FUTURE
For Schwamborn, the brain organoid model is nothing less than a research method with an interesting future. Other companies have already also specialized in the use of brain organoids for research, with OrganoTherapeutics so far being the only company researching specific midbrain organoids needed to understand Parkinson’s disease. The development of this model is considered to be already very advanced. The support provided by computer-based analysis algorithms is also already so mature that OrganoTherapeutics can deliver valuable research results. Jens Schwamborn is therefore confident that, in the long term, research using mini-brains will prevail.
OrganoTherapeutics use cutting-edge human-specific mini-brains for the discovery and development of effective drug candidates targeting Parkinson”s disease. We screen new molecules on our proprietary human-specific minibrains which represent a model mimicking faithfully the human Parkinson”s disease pathology. OrganoTherapeutics aims at developing new drug candidates against Parkinson”s disease which are tested in state-of-the art 3D patient models. OrganoTherapeutics has developed first own proprietary drug candidates and has access to attractive libraries for further screening.
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